How to Eliminate Your Email Inbox Nightmare

One of my friends has 19,371 emails in his inbox. At one point he even had to go to Google.com and pay to increase the memory of his Gmail account so that he could continue his collection.

While you might not have that many emails, you likely do have too much email.

But it’s your own fault.

You are the only one to blame for your “too much email” problem.

Here’s why.

First, you treat email like text messaging when you should treat email like faxing or writing a letter. After all, when you send someone a fax, they don’t fax you back a thank you. And you don’t fax them back a message saying, “No Problem.”

With faxing, or letter writing, there is no vicious cycle of time-wasting two-word correspondence. Yet you do it over and over again every day with email, and that’s one reason why your inbox is jammed.

You can end that right now with four letters: NNTR

That means: No Need To Reply

Insert those four letters (with a definition the first time you do it) into your emails when replying to a colleague’s question. You’ll cut your email volume by a minimum of 25%.

In addition, add a quick line to your email signature under your name that states, “In an effort to reduce email volume, please only reply if necessary.” You can easily delete this line if the situation is not appropriate. Otherwise, leave it in there and spread the message that you don’t require unnecessary replies.

The second mistake you are making that results in too many emails is that you send too many emails. Since eliminating my access to the Internet at home, I’ve developed the habit of saving up all correspondence for a particular individual and sending one itemized email per day to that person.

For example, if I want my assistant to update a blog, contact an affiliate, or send off a job to a ghostwriter on Elance, I’ll put all of these tasks into one email that I’ll send at the beginning or end of the day. In turn, she sends me just one itemized update each day at 5pm on all the projects she is doing.

And when you do reply to someone’s email, make sure you change the subject line to reflect the content of the email. This will allow you to better find the email from your files when the day comes – and you know it will – when you absolutely, positively, MUST find that email in a hurry.

(Speaking of emergencies, when something important comes up in my business, we use this thing called a “phone.” See if your IT department has access to this cutting edge technology.)

If the itemized, single-message approach strikes you as too difficult to implement right now, then at least use the old “count-to-ten” rule before sending that email. That’s the beauty of medium. You actually have time to think before you hit the send button.

Remember, if you want to CONTROL YOUR EMAIL PROBLEM, then email should not be treated as a conversation. Stop replying to things that don’t need a reply.

Here’s one more tip on how to cut back on your email production. Begin by taking a look at how many emails you send per day. Now starting tomorrow, you must limit yourself to 25% of today’s email production.

For example, let’s say you sent forty emails today. That means tomorrow you get to send ten emails. Every email you send above ten costs $1 and you’ll deposit that dollar into a jar. At the end of the week you can burn it, flush it, or give it away to charity. It doesn’t matter. But it’s gone.

That will teach you to treat email with the respect it deserves.

The third reason you have too much email is because you ASK for it (as well as too many Twitter and Facebook messages).

The solution?

Unsubscribe from (almost) everything.

I get the following select business and financial email newsletters and believe they are worthwhile and I limit myself exclusively to this list:

a) Ryan Deiss (Reading time: 15 seconds)
b) Bedros Keuilian (Reading time: 30 seconds)
c) Palm Beach Letter (Reading time: 1 minute)
d) SovereignMan.com (Reading time: 1 minute)
e) BillBonnersDiary.com (Reading time: 2 minutes)

Everything else is not worth it, in my opinion.

Give yourself 5 minutes per day to read email newsletters and make sure you BATCH the reading time. That means you save them all for lunchtime or 5pm.

That’s all the time you get.

No mas.

Unsubscribe from everything else, and just as importantly, un-follow and un-friend everyone on FB and Twitter who isn’t someone you wake up wanting to hear from EVERY DAY.

If you have trouble letting go, just ask yourself, “How do I really want to spend my life?”

Is it answering email from strangers?

Is it reading yet another email newsletter?

Or is playing with your children and enjoying your family time?

Do your work and then cut off your email time.

Remember that every wasted minute you spend in your inbox is a minute stolen from the limited time your kids will be kids.

Something has to give.

It’s your choice. Don’t become a slave to work email. And needless to say, all of these recommendations apply to your personal email usage as well.

The bottom line is this…

Your inbox is your responsibility. If you get too much email then you simply haven’t set up the right systems to protect your time. Email is not a conversation tool, and when you can change your perspective on how email – and all online messaging should work – you’ll save yourself precious time and dramatically reduce your work-related stress levels.

Treat email – and the people’s time you are emailing – with respect and you’ll have less email to deal with.

Good luck, and remember, count to ten before hitting send.

Helping you create your Perfect Day,

Craig Ballantyne

PS – Use the 3 ancient secrets…

… to create your perfect day.

Read the article and watch my video here

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  • Amy

    Wow. I have been trying to tame the email beast for some time, both at home and at the office. I know that when I get my business up and running that I will have to keep an eye on it. . .but canceling home Internet may be difficult if I don’t go out to work. Still, it’s an idea. Will wait to see how it goes.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      You can do it, Amy. Keep working to cut back that email.

      Craig

  • Ed

    Thanks for the advice, I just unsubscribed from Early To Rise because it was one of those pesky daily emails you spoke of. Canceling my internet does not seem a wise choice. I save money and time, make money and more time for myself and communicate around the world with the internet. I guess I could just throw the saddle on my horse and ride into town to the telegraph office. I’ll give it some thought.

  • Tony

    I really have to wonder about the quality of ETR lately. Cancel my home Internet just to cut down on email?

    I do business and communicate literally around the world, plus I do research. And I can do it at any time day or night.

    No, it’s a foolish idea. Just like this new pimping of Mike Litman and people who claim 100% stock market returns–with no proof.

    I have a lot of respect for Mr. Ballantyne, but I’m wavering.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Hi Tony, thanks for your feedback. I disagree that it is foolish, and strongly believe that it is the right thing for me, and something for many people to consider. But again, I appreciate your point of view.

      Craig

  • Tony

    There, I’ve done my part to tame the email beast: hit the button that unsubbed me from ETR and other offers. My inbox feels lighter already. Too bad, after so many years, but either the quality really has declined or I’ve gotten a lot more sophisticated.

    Thanks for the laughs guys!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Hi Tony, thanks for the follow-up. Sorry to see you go. Thanks for your support of ETR over the years.

      Craig

  • Emilia

    I used the internet at public libraries when travelling recently. 15mins allowed as a ‘Guest’.
    Paying my rent online, booking flights – all proved to be challenging in 15mins. It also revealed to me how much I couldn’t read or respond to in that time yet I do so at home. In the last week I have begun the unsubscribing. I so appreciate your article. Direct,useful & unapologetic. Thankyou.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Very interesting, thank you Emilia.