Merlin’s 5-step method for managing your email inbox

February 18, 2010 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Productivity 

Isn’t email wonderful?

I’m serious. Everyone complains about email now, but many copywriters just starting out now don’t remember the good old days when there was no email. I remember having to actually pick up the phone to talk to clients. *gasp!* To send copy, design, proposals, invoices, and other documents, I’d use a fax or FedEx.

Sometimes, I would use an ancient data storage device called a “floppy disk” to send files. I still have a small pile of them in my office somewhere, sitting idle and useless since most computers now don’t have a floppy drive.

But today, it’s all done by email. Send a message. Send an invoice. Send copy. The copywriting business today is all about managing a blur of emails all day long.

Which brings me to my point. Isn’t email a pain in the butt?

All those emails can really eat up a big chunk of your day if you let them. Communicating with clients or bosses or colleagues is important, but if you don’t manage email efficiently, the time loss is huge. And if you’re one of those types who uses your inbox as an archive of your life, you’re in deep trouble.

For me, email management is a massive issue, since I run a copywriting business and help run an influential and rapidly growing nonprofit. I use templates to answer common questions. I use filters to auto sort messages into different in-boxes. I try to keep replies short. But I still get overwhelmed on some days.

Merlin Mann to the rescue. Merlin is the founder of 43folders, a blog about finding the time to do your best creative work. He gave a presentation to Google youngsters employees about how to handle email. His method is called Inbox Zero.

It’s all common sense, really. But if you’re flummoxed about the avalanche of email you get and send, this may help you sort things out and conquer your inbox.

I’m curious, what email management issues do you have? Are you able to get your inbox to zero every time you check your email?

Related posts:

  1. How to create a copywriting winner step-by-step
  2. How to write email marketing messages that get clicks
  3. 100 spam trigger words that can kill your email copy
  4. Email copywriting: an interview with Ivan Levison
  5. A 9-step copywriter’s guide for taking effective notes

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Smart Comments

6 Comments on Merlin’s 5-step method for managing your email inbox

  1. Curated Stories Feb. 18, 2010 on Feb 18th, 2010 4:49 pm
  2. [...] Merlin’s 5-step method for managing your email inbox Published: February 18, 2010 Source: Pro Copy Tips Isn’t email wonderful? I’m serious. Everyone complains about email now, but many copywriters just starting out now don’t remember the good old days when there was no email. I remember having to actually p… [...]

  3. Guerrero Ink on Feb 19th, 2010 11:01 am
  4. Yes, I am able to get my email box down to zero but that was not always the case.

    Since I’ve been using Gmail for several years the learning curve was a bit high.

    I tend to check email early in the day and then at night.

    If there is a project that requires more communication, I might check in the middle of the day.

    However, I mitigate incoming mail by encouraging people to comment on the blog, call me directly, and my clients or subscribers get a support email not available to most people.

    Eventually I hope to have a VA to manage the email box (I run two main blogs and eight others).

    I’ve had to change my email accounts due to spam (been on the web since 1995) and abuse from those who forwarded or posted my email addresses.

    As a result, I’ve gone from 500-600 emails a day to a few dozen a day.

    I also use canned responses.

    Finally, I have all past email addresses forward to a screening email account AND I use a separate email address out on the web for subscriptions and comments.
    .-= Guerrero Ink’s last blog … Become A Blogger Roadmap & Premium Program =-.

  5. Ted Grigg on Feb 19th, 2010 7:07 pm
  6. At one point, over 600 emails a day came to my inbox. It was overwhelming.

    Luckily, as a computer geek, I contacted my ISP and they put me up on a more sophisticated email server that reduced the volume by 80%. Their spam filter took care of most of the spam. Secondly, we invested in SpamSieve, and that dropped out 90% of the remaining spam. By training SpamSieve, I now rarely have to deal with spam and clean out my inbox in less than an hour in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. What a relief!

    But now, text messages are taking over my life. Yet another learning curse on how to control this new monster.
    .-= Ted Grigg’s last blog … Terminology Abuse Kills Strategy =-.

  7. Dean Rieck on Feb 20th, 2010 10:14 am
  8. Ted:
    I had the same experience a few years ago before switching to GoDaddy. My spam dropped so quickly, I thought something went wrong. The problem today is an overload of legitimate email. You can’t beat it. All you can do is manage it. I avoid texting, though.

    [...] conversation with Rob was closely followed by two great posts I read at the end of last week: Merlin’s 5-step method for Managing your Inbox by Dean Rieck at Pro Copy Tips. And Email is Killing your Business by Michael [...]

    [...] conversation with Rob was closely followed by two great posts I read at the end of last week: Merlin’s 5-step method for Managing your Inbox by Dean Rieck at Pro Copy Tips. And Email is Killing your Business by Michael [...]