In preparation for writing this post, I went to a very remote place. I closed everything on my computer save for this one browser window.
Yes, that means that my inbox is closed.
No, I am not the least bit worried.
What about you? Does the thought of doing work at your computer in the middle of the day without your inbox open make your shudder? Do you recoil in terror at the thought of not immediately seeing an urgent email when it comes through?
I used to. And it is the single biggest reason why my inbox used to control me, rather than the other way around.
Then I discovered a tool that changed everything.
And this tool, an undeniable game-changer when it comes to email management, is why I’m able to write some of this post smack dab in the middle of a weekday with my inbox closed … and with not even one bit of worry threatening my peace of mind.
Let me tell you about it …
But first, of course, the why
As I did on Tuesday in Part 1 of the Primility Guide to Email Mastery, before I give you the how we have to establish the why.
What problem is this “game-changing tool” going to provide the solution for? The problem of batch-processing emails.
In Part 1, I explained Michael Hyatt’s simple, effective process for clearing out his inbox every single day.
The result is a clean inbox, one of the most beautiful sights any of us can ever see.
But if Mr. Hyatt, or you, or me, is in our inbox all day long applying the 4 D’s to our emails, we may end up with a clean inbox … but we’ll never get any actual work done. Well, we’ll get email-dictated work done, but we won’t have any extended batches of uninterrupted time for meaningful work.
This is why Part 2 of the Primility Guide to Email Mastery is about batch processing — the key to emptying your inbox and achieving substantial objectives each and every day.
Quick explanation of batch email processing
This is a pretty simple concept, so I won’t belabor the explanation.
Batch email processing is simply picking a few times each day to hop into your inbox and clear it out. So instead of responding to each email as it comes in, you open your inbox at, say, 10:00 a.m. and again at, say, 4:00 p.m. and process the accumulated emails until your inbox is empty.
Why did I pick those times? First, because batch processing emails first thing in the morning is not an ideal activity for most people’s peak time for productivity and creativity. (Here is an article if you want further convincing of this fact: The 1 Thing Super Successful People Never Do In The Early Morning.) Second, it makes sense to batch process before the work day ends so you can start fresh the next day.
Makes sense, right?
I’m not worried about selling you on the benefits of batch processing emails. You get it. But as several people commented to me publicly and privately after reading Part 1, the problem is executing a batch email processing plan consistently and with confidence.
Because there is a huge problem with batch email processing. A supermassive one, in fact.
The big problem with batch email processing
You know what it is, don’t you?
If you batch process emails at 10:00 a.m., and not again until 4:00 p.m., that leaves roughly five-plus hours in the middle of the day when your inbox is unmonitored. Not to mention the time in the morning and early evening.
- What if your boss sends an email that requires an immediate reply?
- What if you are waiting on a reply from someone else before you finish an important project on that day’s to-do list?
- What if you have an afternoon meeting that gets changed or canceled, and the only communication comes via email?
Well, if these urgent emails come, and you are not constantly checking your inbox because you want to batch process, and you don’t have a way of getting notified … then your whole batch processing strategy just blew up in your face.
And your fear of it ever happening again will undoubtedly cause you to slide your wrists right back into your inbox shackles. Good luck getting any game-changing work done with the invisible warden inside your inbox using those shackles to yank your attention span to and fro.
But what if you could get notified about that urgent email from your boss? Or that reply about the day’s important project? Or the meeting change? Without having to peek in your inbox?
That would be pretty sweet, right?
AwayFind lets you batch process with peace of mind
The game-changing tool that lets you batch process email with peace of mind (so you can do game-changing work) is AwayFind.
No tool has ever had a more profound impact on my day-in, day-out productivity.
I first tried it out a few years ago when I was doing support for Synthesis. I needed a way to be alerted when an emergency ticket came in, so I didn’t have to keep the Help Desk open every single second during my shift. I simply set AwayFind to alert me via phone call when I got an emergency ticket email notification. It was simple to set up, and it worked. Every time.
But for whatever reason I didn’t take the next steps and take advantage of AwayFind’s full capabilities. I guess I needed another year-plus of feeling completely overwhelmed by email on a daily basis before I was ready to say enough is enough and find a solution.
Once the light bulb went off, I spent about 20 minutes configuring AwayFind for both my work and personal email accounts (it’s that simple) … and now I control my inbox rather than the other way around.
Here’s how AwayFind works …
In four easy steps:
- Set your list of “Important People” — like your boss, colleagues on your work team, your spouse and kids, etc. When someone on this list emails you, you get a notification.
- Set your list of “Topics I’m Following” — words like “urgent” and “asap” or important project names. When these words pop up in emails, you’ll be alerted.
- Set your alert preferences — whether you want to be alerted by text message, phone call, push notification, or a combination.
- Set your alert times — as in, when you want to receive alerts and when you don’t. For example, I turn off alerts overnight between 10:30 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
With these alerts set up, you’ll never miss an urgent email and you’ll get alerts exactly how and when you want them.
Now, you may be thinking: Okay, but if I am constantly getting alerts, then I’m having to constantly hop into my inbox to reply, and that is just going to lead to me getting caught up answering the other emails I see in there!
Your AwayFind account has its own inbox, where all you see are the important emails. So you can glance quickly at the alert, and if it requires an immediate response you can reply from your AwayFind inbox. This helps you avoid getting distracted by the other emails you’ve gotten since your last batch processing run.
But wait … there’s more.
While we can reasonably foresee who the majority of truly urgent emails will be from, each day can be its own animal. AwayFind has ways of helping you deal with this.
AwayFind integrates with GMail and many other email clients. This allows you to quickly add a specific email thread or email address that you want to temporarily get instant alerts from.
Remember, from above, that reply you were awaiting before you could finish that important to-do? What if it’s not from someone you want on your “Important People” list? Just follow the thread or that person for the day. Problem solved.
AwayFind also integrates with calendars, like Google Calendar. This allows it to have intelligence features like alerting you to emails from email addresses that you have upcoming meetings scheduled with — without you having to tell the system anything.
So, say I’m not on your “Important People” list, meaning you don’t normally get alerts when I email you. But, you and I have a meeting scheduled in three hours. If I email you, you’ll get an alert. This way, if I send an agenda or change the time, you won’t be unprepared or in the dark.
And the most important part of all this, remember … is you didn’t have to have your nose stuck in your inbox to find out!
Oh, and there’s this too …
There’s one more feature about AwayFind that I have to mention: the combination of the intelligent autoresponder and urgent message form.
The autoresponder allows you to send a canned message to people who are not on your “Important People” list. The benefit here is setting expectations. Some people expect rapid-fire responses to emails, so I like to let people know that I batch process emails at certain times a day. This way, they know what to expect from me in terms of response time.
What makes the autoresponder “intelligent” is that it does not fire off every time someone emails me. It gets sent once, and then not again to that person for 180 days (or whatever time internal you choose).
And the autoresponse can include a link to a form you set up through AwayFind that allows anyone to send you an urgent message. Here is mine, if you want to see what it looks like: https://orchant.awayfind.com/jerod.
The benefit is that even on the rare occasions when someone not on your “Important People” list needs to get you an urgent message, they can.
All potential bases: covered.
Now you understand why I have such peace of mind that I’ll never miss an important email, even when I only go into my inbox a few times a day.
Now for the fun part: get AwayFind at a discount
How much is peace of mind worth to you? Especially peace of mind that enables you to produce more revenue-generating work?
Whatever dollar amount you place on it, I bet it’s more than $20. Way more. It should be.
AwayFind doesn’t even cost that much.
It’s $5/month if you only need to track one email address — your work email, for example. If you want to track all of your email addresses, like I do, it’s $15/month for the Pro plan.
But don’t worry. You don’t have to decide right away. You have 30 days to try it for free before you commit dollars to it. That’s what I did. By the time the 30 days was up, I probably would have paid double. (But don’t tell them that.)
And for being a Primility reader, you get a discount.
Click right here or use the promo code primility2014 at checkout to receive $25 off an annual subscription to the Pro Plan. (Yes, you still get the free 30 day trial if you use the promo code.)
Then set it and forget about your inbox … until it’s time to batch process.
That’s how you never, ever miss an essential email even if you never open your inbox.
Email mastery is now within your grasp
You know about the 4 D’s, which allow you to efficiently empty your inbox every day.
And now, with AwayFind, you will be able to batch process your emails — allowing you the freedom to hop into your inbox only a few times each day. Just think of all the extra focus you’ll have! Fantasize about the important work you will be able to get done with more big chunks of uninterrupted time.
These two steps alone will revolutionize your email management. And once you’re comfortable with them, you’ll be nearing mastery.
In Part 3 of the Primility Guide to Email Mastery, coming next week, I’ll share another tool (and have another discount available!) that has made a huge positive impact on my email management. And if you use your inbox as your to-do list, it will make a huge positive impact for you too.
But before we get there, let’s discuss batch processing.
- Are you still skeptical?
- Do you have any questions about how AwayFind works?
- Do you have a different method for batch processing without worry?
The comment section awaits …
[Disclosure notice: At this time, I do not receive any type of kickback or other financial consideration from AwayFind for referring customers. Should that change in the future, I will let you know. I do appreciate them being kind enough to provide me with the discount code to give to you.]
Flickr Creative Commons Image via AL_HikesAZ.