I’m Drowning in Email and I Can’t Get Out

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I know most of you can probably relate to the title of today’s post. I remember reading Katie’s post on managing email and feeling like I had a rock in my stomach. I was failing at managing my email and failing miserably! I got up the courage and sent her an email that went something like this:

How do suggest someone that gets 200-300 emails per day stay on top of it? This is not including any newlsetters, store notices, or anything else like that. It is mostly email that I need to respond to.

Katie’s response went something like this:

It’s not humanly possible. You can’t do it.

After a good laugh, we started setting up different methods for our communication between each other (Basecamp). We talked about hiring someone to take care of customer service, but honestly, customer service emails are pretty minimal and really enjoy the interaction with our customers, so I’m not ready to offload it.

The best thing I did though, was learn a new way of handling my email. I used to get email, open it, read it, then mark it unread so I could come back to it later. That is exactly how emails were piling up on me and getting lost. Many times, the emails didn’t necessarily NEED a response, but I wanted to send one…later…when I had more time.

I decided I needed to change this and if I opened it; I needed to take care of it then or leave it marked as opened. The problem with that was sometimes I can’t respond right away. Sometimes, the email will need action in a couple of days…but then a couple of days would come and I would forget and the email would get lost…again.

My other problem was with the emails that need to go out at certain points during the month. For instance, at the beginning of each month, I send an email welcoming the designers that will be in The Digi Files in two months. This email reminds them of their commitment and everything we need from them by the end of the the month. A few days later, I send out an email to the designers that will be joining us during the next calendar month to let them know the feature schedule and that we have all of the goodies they uploaded.  These are just a couple examples of the regular emails I send each month.  The problem was that often, when I was at my computer, I would think of it, but it was too soon to send the email. Then when the time came for the email to go out, I would always remember when I was driving…or in the shower…not good times for emailing.

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I decided there had to be a solution, so my friend Google and I got busy. Enter Boomerang for Gmail.  With Boomerang I can:

  • Send an email later – I can write it whenever I think about it and then schedule it to be sent later.
  • Schedule reminders – I can open an email, schedule Boomerang to remind me about it later (any day and time I want), and Boomerang will take the email out of my inbox until that day and time. On the day and time I determined, that email pops back in at the top of my inbox.
  • Remind me if I don’t hear back –  I can schedule Boomerang to only bring the email to the top of my inbox if I don’t hear anything back. This is super helpful with customer service.

Here’s a YouTube video demo:

You get 10 free messages a month and then it $4.99/month for unlimited messages after that (yes, I am a paying Boomerang customer). There is a higher level as well, but the only difference I could see was smartphone use.

This little plugin has really helped me keep my inbox clean. It’s also helped me do a much better job following up with customers on things they might need or to check in with them if they had a problem.

Let’s face it, we are all overwhelmed with email these days and every little tool that can help us manage it is a good thing to know about!  Do you have any tips or tools on managing emails? We would love to hear about them in the comments!