Handle Your Overflowing Inbox With This Two-Step System

When you’re dealing with a lot of email, you absolutely have to have a management system in place. Without a system, you’ll drown in a sea of messages…and it only gets worse as time goes on. You aren’t able to prioritize, and things fall through the cracks. You make mistakes, you forget to follow up and you might even lose some business.

Fortunately, there’s a two-step system to handle your overflowing inbox. Step #1 is implementing Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix, which helps you prioritize and delegate from within your inbox. Step #2 is using TouchingBase.io’s Dashboard, which shows you a big picture view of the emails you’ve tagged to follow up with later.

Let’s start with the Time Management Matrix.

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Here’s how it works:

Your first priority: emails that are important and urgent. You know, like when your long-time client needs your help on a crucial problem right away. You should respond to these kinds of emails in a timely fashion. Hopefully, there aren’t too many of them! Many issues that fall into the “important/urgent” category can be avoided by planning ahead.

Your second priority: emails that are important but not urgent. For example, someone is interested in working with you in the future, but not right now. You don’t have to deal with this right away, but you have to decide WHEN you’re going to deal with it. That’s where TouchingBase.io comes in. You assign a follow-up date for later on, and the email disappears from your inbox. It’ll reappear when it’s time to deal with.

Your third priority: emails that are urgent but not important. These are the emails that clutter up your day — questions from clients, feedback on projects, low-priority requests, newsletters you’ve signed up for, etc. Set aside 30-60 minutes at the beginning and end of your day to read and respond to all of these emails at once. And whenever possible, delegate to your team.

Your last priority: emails that are neither urgent nor important. This can include emails that don’t require you to respond, annoying reply-all chains that have nothing to do with you, and communication from Nigerian Princes. Whenever possible, archive or delete these.

That’s how you prioritize your email. But for the savvy emailer, there’s one more step to add to your email system. And that’s the TouchingBase.io Dashboard.

For some of us, working within our email inbox is sufficient — all we need to see is what’s in our inbox at the moment. But if you’re handling large amounts of email, and you’re tagging lots of messages to follow up later, you need to be able to see more than what’s in front of you right now. You need to be able to see what’s on tap for the future…your big picture view.

That’s where the Dashboard comes in.

With the Dashboard, you can see all the follow-up reminders you’ve set in one place. So, you can see what emails are in the pipeline for this week, this month, next month, etc.

The Dashboard also shows you all your follow-up reminders across multiple projects and email accounts. So, if you use one email address for your web development consultancy, and one email address for your web design consultancy, you can see your upcoming follow-ups for both businesses in one awesome view.

When you look at the Dashboard, every row is a person you’ve tagged to follow up with. You’ll see the date of your last communication, and when you’re slated to talk to them again. When you click, it opens up that email thread directly in your Gmail so you can see your previous conversation, which is crazy helpful. The data is also sortable, so you can easily see what’s most helpful to you. All of this information helps you understand what’s on tap so you can make informed decisions.

I’ve spoken with lots of TouchingBase.io customers who handle big quantities of email across multiple email accounts, and they absolutely love the Dashboard. They deal with a lot of “important but not urgent” emails, so they’re tagging a lot of messages to follow up later. The problem is, once the emails leave their inbox, it’s easy to forget about them entirely. That’s why the Dashboard is so great. With one click, you can easily check in on all of your “for later” emails.

Combine the Time Management Matrix with the TouchingBase.io Dashboard and see how much time you save. You’ll have a clean inbox AND you’ll always know what’s in the pipeline. No more drowning in a sea of messages!

Published by

Matt McCormick

Matt is the host of "7 Minute Sales" - a podcast from the perspective of a developer-founder who is learning to sell and market more effectively. Follow my journey and lessons learned at blog.touchingbase.io. Matt is also the founder of TouchingBase.io - A Better Follow Up System for Gmail.