Ep 57 – Inbox Zero

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Email. We can’t live without it (yet) so we have to learn how to make it work for us. Today I am going to show you how I have refined my email habits to achieve Inbox Zero, including the some apps you must use if you want to master your inbox.

Episode Resources

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Transcript

Welcome back to Broad New World. I’m your host, Broadhurst, and you can check out all of my music, my music videos and all of my podcast episodes at www.broadhurst.world. And you can check out all of my music on any platform whether it’s iTunes, Spotify, Google play, Youtube, wherever you listen to music just search for my artist name Broadhurst and you can check out all of my tunes.

And that song you were listening to is a song called ‘Bones’ and some of the lyrics are, “It’s easy to miss the gold we find, so dizzy with the daily grind, I’m taking all the hits head on, I feel it in my bones.”

Now, I wasn’t talking about email when I wrote that, but if you don’t master your inbox then you certainly can feel like you’re taking all the hits head on, all day long. And when my inbox gets out of control I certainly feel it in my bones.

When I was mapping out this episode I was thinking seriously like, holy guacamole this is gonna help so many people. This could easily, I promise you, could be a very expensive online program but as always I say that I’ve got nothing to sell you, so I’m just going to share with you what I’ve learned, but if you want to take this information and create your own online program out of it, go for it. As long as it gets into people’s lives I’ll be very happy. And you will definitely want to visit www.broadhurst.world/57 to get all the show notes for this one because it’s a biggie.

Now it has taken me many, many years to get my email habits into a system that just flows. I’m the CEO of multiple 7 figure businesses, I have a flourishing music career and I get a lot of emails, lots of emails. And each day my goal is always to get my inbox to zero, which means when you go to your email there is nothing in your inbox, zero, nada. When was the last time you did that?

Very few people get to inbox zero, but the feeling you get when you get there is amazing. It’s a sense of achievement, but we want to get there as efficiently as possible and not spend all day in our inbox, so how do we do this?

So let’s start with the program that I use and this is a big one, this is huge. I’m gonna say something pretty strong here; if you’re not using Gmail then start now. I know for some people this may not be possible depending on your systems at work, but if you have the choice, make the swap.

Now, before you Apple fanatics freak out at the thought of stepping outside of the Apple ecosystem, I totally feel you, I was exactly the same, I used to think, “Surely no one can make anything better than Apple mail.” I was totally wrong, Gmail crushes it on so many  levels. And Apple might be a bit prettier but that just ain’t worth it to me.

So just being open to new ways is really important. Just stay open during this because people get very attached their email and I promise you that what you are about to learn is transformative.

Now, I’m always amused when I travel overseas, I see people getting server errors on their Apple mail because they’re in different countries on different networks their email program just can’t pull in, it can’t get through the firewalls and these sorts of things on different wifi networks. They get that annoying little exclamation symbol that pops up in the inbox that lets them know that there’s an issue. This doesn’t happen with Gmail, it does not happen with Gmail.

And how about when you receive an attachment in Apple mail and you’ve gotta wait for it to download; not with Gmail. Or how about when you accidentally hit Send and you realize you missed something or you sent it to the wrong person; not with Gmail, because there is a feature called Unsend which is a lifesaver, trust me.

I was in a pretty complicated legal situation a couple of years ago. I sent an email that could have made a real mess of things and I just clicked Unsend. So when you do start using Gmail go into your settings, go to Labs and turn on the Unsend feature.

Now the only thing that you can’t do with Gmail is use it without an internet connection and there is a Google Chrome extension for that, but I never use it because if I never have a connection at some point then I’ll just do something else; like, I might write or read or meditate or rest or sleep. You know, we don’t always have to be on our email.

So the question I get a lot is, “But don’t I need a Gmail account?” Yes, you do. So just sign up for a new Gmail account if you don’t have one yet, just anything… ‘My name 1978, whatever, @ gmail.com’. Then all you need to do is connect your emails into that Gmail account. So you can set it up so that you may log in with your Gmail address but all of your emails come from say your Outlook address, or your iCloud address, or even your work address.

And to take this to the next level you connect every single one of your emails into the one Gmail account so you’ve got one inbox. And you set it up so that when you respond to an email, it just gets sent from the email address that the email was sent to. And you can also choose any email to send from when you compose a new email. I’ll let that sink in with you for a second.

That is so powerful, that is efficient, that is productivity, that is cool. So there’s no excuse. Anyway, I could go on and on about how good Gmail is but we’ll move on to Chrome extensions.

Now Chrome in my humble opinion is hands down the best browser by a long shot. I would love to use Safari but it just is no good compared to Chrome. And when you use Gmail in Chrome there are three extensions, Chrome extensions you can install for free which are complete game changers, total game changers.

And the first one is called Inbox Pause which is exactly how it sounds, it allows you to pause and unpause your inbox. So my inbox is basically paused until I decide to unpause it and do my email hour. So no emails come in, I don’t get disturbed. You can also have all the emails appear magically in your inbox at a certain time every day, so you don’t even have to pause or unpause it, they just appear and that’s it, pretty cool.

The next one is Mail Track. Now actually I’ll just say that ‘Inbox pause’ I’m pretty sure is free. The next one is called Mail Track. This allows you to basically see when other people have not opened your emails. So if you’re wondering, “I haven’t heard back from such and such, I wonder if they’ve seen my email.” Well, one green tick means that it’s been sent and been delivered to their inbox, two green ticks means that it’s been delivered and it’s been opened.

So if someone says, “Aw I’m so sorry I missed your email,” and you can see green ticks, you know they’re telling little white fluffies. So for that one I use the paid version and that gives you unlimited mail tracking which for me is just awesome. I don’t use it a lot but when I do need to use it, it gives me piece of mind.

This next one I could talk about for hours. It is so good, it’s called ‘Boomerang’ for Gmail. This is the holy grail of inbox mastery. I would be completely lost without this one extension. Basically it allows you to do all sorts of things, but the one thing I can’t live without is ‘return to inbox’. All you do is tick a little box and choose when you would like the email to return to your inbox and under what conditions.

The two conditions I use all the time are: ‘regardless’ so basically no matter what happens at the other end, regardless, return this to my inbox at this time. So you choose your time, it could be two hours, four hours, tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon, one week, two weeks, you can choose a specific time of day, and the next one is called ‘If no reply’.

Now, ‘If no reply’ is epic. This takes me out of my productivity system, because if you’re thinking of, “Okay, I’ve sent an email to someone”, then you think, “Oh I’ll have to put that into my productivity system or I’ll have to make a note and follow this person up about this email”, you don’t have to do that anymore because it’s going to come back.

So basically for ‘No reply’ you don’t want to think about when an email has been sent, you want it to go and never think about it and you want it to just disappear from your email inbox. If someone does not respond I can choose a date and a time when I want that to come back to me if no one has responded, so if it’s urgent again, I just choose two hours or four hours or tomorrow morning etc.

The power of this can only be felt once you’ve started using it. It is mind blowing, seriously mind blowingly good. If no reply, do this; it is gold. You can also boomerang an email back into your inbox if someone doesn’t click on a link for example in an email, or if the email is not actually even opened you can return it back to your inbox as well, it is so so good, so good.

Now you can use this for free but there are limitations and give it a go for free, but I would 100% would pay for the pro version 10 times what I pay because it is that good and so important to my work flow.

So honestly I could just stop there because right now you have three Chrome extensions and Gmail which are total game changers, they’re the three main things, they are non-negotiables in my view. Plus, with Gmail you can integrate that with Google Drive, with Google G Suite for business. It just takes everything to a whole new level. If we didn’t have G Suite, Gmail and Google drive I honestly I do not know how we would run all of our businesses. It’s… I’m Sorry Apple, you guys are not very good at this. Gmail, Google you’re incredible.

Alright, so here are some other tips that will take you to inbox zero. There’s quite a few here, so definitely you may need to take notes or come back later. So, ‘Check your email at set times’. For me, that’s at 3:30pm for one hour and for me it’s like a game.

Now it could be different for you, maybe at work you might have to check it three times a day for 30 minutes each or something like that. Find a schedule that works for you and just give it a go. Don’t be attached to having to respond all the time, you don’t have to respond straight away, and never check emails first thing in the morning or before bed. Never never never.

Turn off notifications on your desktop and your phone. Do not respond when an email comes in; this is giving your power over to someone else’s schedule. Pick your schedule and stick to it.

The next thing is, include everything you need in each email to bring that conversation to a conclusion. Be clear about your next steps and what you would like them to respond with. Don’t leave it open to ambiguity, don’t leave it open to questions which would just extend that email thread longer. Make it very clear, try and wrap it up in one go.

Keep them as short as possible, five sentences if you can, that is a sign of respect for the other person’s time and your own time. Be succinct. Now folders, I don’t use them. I wanna get to inbox zero every day, I don’t want to have to look around in another folder. If I need to find something then I just do a search. And you know what? The company who created the Google search engine are pretty good at search and it’s no different in Gmail because when you search for something, you’re gonna find it. It’s a lot quicker than going into a folder and poking around.

Next is don’t copy and blind copy people like a crazy person because we need to respect other people’s inboxes and they will respect yours. Always ask yourself, who really, really needs to see this email? Really important, because all of us will get less emails if we all do that one thing.

Now, autoresponders. To be honest, I think they suck, I’m gonna be honest with you. I’ve used them but I feel like there is a level of self importance and possible arrogance to them because when you have an autoresponder on, you’re basically saying, “My time’s more important than yours, so I’m going to send you another email that clogs up your inbox just so I can tell you that I’m not checking email because I’m just so busy,” etc.

Now of course, if you’re on holiday or you have customer support, that’s different, but can I please encourage all you entrepreneurs to stop with the four hour work week autoresponders; they are a pain in the arse. I’ve been guilty of this and I promise I am not going to do it again. We’re all going to get less emails if we all get rid of unnecessary autoresponders.

Next tip is obvious but unsubscribe from all email newsletters, unless there’s something you really, desperately, absolutely want to read… unsubscribe. Unless it’s of course from Melissa or I because our content’s cool.

The next thing is use the four ‘D’s. Delete, delegate, defer, do. So in Gmail I don’t delete as such, I archive every single email. In fact, every email I  send, I hit the ‘Send and archive’ blue button, it’s one button that sends and archives at the same time because I know it’ll come back if no one responds etc. Thanks to Boomerang.

So I’ve ticked ‘if no reply’ or ‘Regardless’ in Boomerang, I’ve chosen a date and a time and I click ‘Send and archive’. Now it’s gone from my inbox, it’s gone, and it will only come back if it needs to. It’s a very important step to get to inbox zero.

I don’t use labels, I don’t use stars, I don’t use folders, it’s just gone. You can use Boomerang to defer as well, so you can just… if you don’t want to send that email just click ‘Boomerang back to my inbox at this time’ and it will come back when you’re ready to look at it. And as for delegate and do, well they’re pretty obvious, just get that email out of your inbox. Go away email, like disappear please.

If you want to be really hard core, delete the email app from your phone so that you’re focused and forced to do it in your email hour or your chosen time slots. This my friends decreases so much stress, it takes you out of fight or flight. If you do use it on your phone, use the Gmail app, it is so far superior to other apps, it’s like night and day; especially better than the Apple Mail app, that is pretty bad in my opinion.

You can set up all of your email accounts, whether it’s iCloud, Outlook, Hotmail, anything you want you can set it up in the Gmail app so you can still get the functionality of that app as well, but as I said you should be ideally using Gmail anyway.

And when I was heavily involved in a feature film production as EP, Executive Producer and Producer, I got so many emails it was impossible to keep up, it was so overwhelming, so in my signature I just said, “Please only copy me if I absolutely need to read this email. I will respect your inbox if you respect mine.” And honestly, I think my emails halved, so if you’re in a work situation and you get copied on a whole bunch of things and you don’t really need to see it, check with your boss, your manager and make that it’s okay to put that in your signature.

So there you have it my friends, that is a pretty chunky episode with a lot of productivity email hacks. And technology is an amazing thing, it can give us an awful amount of power, if we know how to use it properly. And I’m gonna to do an episode on using technology for your own freedom eventually and I’ll talk about all the different apps that I use in my life that give me back my time and don’t absorb my time.

But inboxes are one of the biggest stressors in our life, one of the biggest time sucks of our life and we want to get in control of this. And if you follow these steps, if you bite the bullet, you stay open, you give Gmail a go, don’t give it a day, don’t give it a week, give it a month; try out these extensions, try these hacks, I promise you, you’re going to save so much time and get part of your life back. I mean that’s essentially what we’re talking about.

So for all the show notes today head to www.broadhurst.world/57 and you can also get a full transcript of this show if you want to read it because there’s a lot of information in here.

And don’t forget to hit the subscribe button on your podcast app, and if you can,  please head into iTunes and leave me a review, either on your computer or on your phone, it’s really, really easy to do. Whether it’s five stars, four, three, two, one, it doesn’t matter, I just want to hear your honest feedback.

I believe this episode can make a big difference to a lot of people, so please, go nuts and share this on social media. Just share it on a story or in a post, whatever you wanna do, share it with you friends and use my handle @broadhurstworld so I can see it and give you a big thank you.

And remember today to look up, today is like every day, a beautiful day full of possibility. See the beauty around you, it’s always there. See the beauty within you because it’s always there. Be gentle with yourself, try to stay open and try some of these suggestions out today.

Let’s reclaim some of our energy and some of our time, let’s get out of the inbox, let’s make it a game, let’s take it to zero every day, have fun with it instead of it being a source of stress. Be love, listen to your intuition today, so important, and as always, have a beautiful day. I love you heaps. Ciao.

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