Managing Your Inbox For Creatives

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Good morning!! I am so excited because today is the first day of Thursday Tutorials, and to kick us off I’m sharing a few tips on how to manage your inbox.  Right now, this is the time of year when hopefully inboxes are overflowing between advertisements, newsletters, client inquiries, emails from clients + vendors, and is your head spinning yet?! I know mine is.  Maybe it’s just me, but I can be a little OCD when it comes to my email.  Plus, if we’re not careful it can totally take over your life… so here’s a few tips to keep that from happening!

Use GMAIL

First things first, if you’re not using Gmail, you need to right now!  It has a lot more tools and add-ons than other emails like iMac mail, Yahoo, or Hotmail.  I know that it can be a pain to switch things over and have things forwarded, but I promise that it will save you so much time later.  They make it really easy to have multiple email addresses all stored in one convenient spot!  Plus their folders can have color assignments, stars, & more to keep all of these emails organized!

Turn off Notifications to Your Phone

Now that you’re a Gmail user and you’ve probably already downloaded the app to your phone, the next best thing you can do to keep it from taking over your life is to turn off all notifications!  Trust me, you can do it!  If you get an inquiry, I promise you that it can wait until the end of the day for you to answer! If you answer that email in 15 minutes versus two hours, it’s ultimately not going to make a difference between whether a client books or not.  THE. WORLD. WILL. NOT. END. if you just wait! So if you need freedom from that right now, there it is, I’m giving you full permission!

An Hour in the Morning & An Hour in the Afternoon

My next tip for tackling your inbox is to set aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening before your office hours end to answer any and all emails.  Scheduling out time at the beginning of the day to respond to emails from the day before and afternoon time is reserved for any responses you’ve received!  Now, I realize this with the fact that if you are not full-time and have another job, this may not quite apply to you in the same way, but don’t worry, I’m getting there, just stick with me!  I also recognize that not everyone will have an hour’s worth of emails to tackle at a time.  That’s okay… figure out what your needs are and plan your day from there :) It’s not a bad thing if emails don’t take you that long!

Create a System for Responding

First go through and purge everything that you can… those advertisements and things that you don’t need to keep, delete them! It makes you feel like you’re winning from the start! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of unread messages, use the tool that I’m talking about in my next point to move all but five unread emails to a separate folder that’s specified just for “Emails to be Answered Later”.  Then schedule to have them pop back into your inbox once you’ve conquered the five you’re working on first.

As you’re going through the list of emails, make sure you choose the emails that are the oldest first.  People are anticipating your response, and it’s always important to get back to them in a timely manner!  Typically, I try not to wait more than a business day in between responding.  Plus, your new inquiries & current clients should always be the first people that you answer!

Utilize Canned Responses

Another way that you can get through emails quickly is by utilizing Canned Responses.  In Gmail, you have the ability to add apps to your email that allow for awesome things.  This specific app allows you to store templates for emails right in the bottom corner of a new email that you’re sending so that you always have them.  This is super convenient because it allows you to respond quickly! If you find yourself sending out a Wedding Questionnaire and requesting your brides to fill out the same information over and over again, it only makes sense to save that part of the email and to utilize! However, I think it’s always important to make the email feel personal, too.  Just because you’re using a template doesn’t mean you have to sound like a robot!

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Get Boomerang

Another glorious app that you need to get for Gmail is Boomerang.  It’s literally a life saver!! It allows you to answer emails and schedule them to send them at a different time.  This is helpful for anyone who has office hours that are a little atypical.  You can see in the image above that my office hours are from Tuesday to Friday, but on nights that Morgan works late sometimes I do end up working later than 4:30!  So if I have emails outstanding, I go ahead and just schedule that email to respond the next morning instead!

I also use Boomerang to schedule emails things ahead of time.  I try to schedule my “wedding questionnaire” email that I talked about before about two months before the wedding day.  Once a couple books with me, I go ahead and schedule their questionnaire to be sent so that I don’t forget! If they end up asking me about it beforehand I just go ahead and cancel it and send the email when they ask me!

Finally, Boomerang is a great way to remind yourself of upcoming tasks! Have an email that you say “I’ll make sure to send this over to you on Thursday?” Well you can have it Boomerang back to your inbox on Thursday so that you don’t forget!

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Yay! We’re now officially done the first ever Thursdays Tutorials.  I’m so excited that you’re here!  Is there anything you guys do extra to keep your inbox managed? 

Posted:

November 5, 2015

comments +

  1. Renee says:

    This post is everything!!!

  2. Emily says:

    Love love love canned responses! Saves me so much time! :)

  3. tPoz says:

    great tips! turning off my phone notifications has saved my sanity!

  4. Alicia Wiley says:

    Now I must organize my email system. Great post!

  5. This is so helpful! I will definitely be applying your tips on crazy email days.

  6. Bekah says:

    This is so helpful Lauren!! :) xo!

  7. Brea says:

    Such great tips! I use gmail but I am still hooked on the apple mail app- I just can’t bring myself to do webmail! Ahh! At least I have a similar workflow in apple mail ;)

    I swear, you’re the queen of organization and work/life balance!

  8. Kate Ann says:

    This post is really helpful! Thanks Lauren!

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Wife, mama, wielder of light & joy, and capturer of moments.  I thrive off of conversation and genuine connection.  In between wrangling our kiddos, and hanging my husband, you'll find me dreaming up my next idea or creative endeavour.  It's these things that culminate to give my imagery a warmth and joy to them - the greatest compliment I could receive.

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