I know the struggle: you love getting free downloads and industry info but your inbox is overstuffed and clearing it takes hours. Plus your email dings constantly, distracting you from pitching, writing and completing assignments. And no matter how much you try to convince yourself otherwise, dinking around in your inbox is not real work. But there’s so much good stuff in there, you say. And you’re right!
But the fact is, an unmanageable inbox:
- takes hours to clean out once you finally get to it
- makes finding time-sensitive emails near impossible
- means you can’t find anything and you’re wasting all that info if you don’t use it
- wastes your time, especially if you’re checking it every time it dings
If you’re interested in writing you’re in luck because writers write about writing…a lot, and much of the information out there is free, or maybe just the cost of subscribing (which leads to more email).
I was also losing work time to my over-crowded inbox, and while I still get all those great reports, downloads and articles, I’ve found a solution. No, better than a solution: I created my own resource library and it was 100% free.
The first thing you have to accept is that you don’t need to read ninety nine percent of your emails the moment they arrive. They’re not going anywhere and if it’s not a time-sensitive message you can save it for later. If you’re waiting on a decision about something you submitted or notes from a client so you can finish editing, check away, but if it’s distracting you from your work you may find it harder to get into a ‘flow’.
The second consideration is whether you will use a dedicated email address for your library. Personally, I have an email for subscriptions and use my professional email (@paidwrite.com) for contact with editors and accounts like Aweber and HostGator as well as affiliates. This way I can check those messages that directly impact my work without having to slog through eighty five newsletters. Plus my emails to editors and clients look all fancy with my own dot com. You can choose to go either route but if you don’t have a professional email address yet, this is the perfect reason to finally cross it off your to-do list.
Organizing the emails you receive is as simple as creating folders and sorting the messages into them. My personal resource library contains these:
- Healthy & Fit
- Blogging & Marketing
- Confirmations (webinars mostly)
- Freelancing & Clients
- Jon Morrow
- Sarah Peterson
- Sophie Lizard
- Social Media
- Morning Coffee
- Someday Soon (get a cool post about podcasting-hell yeah eventually!)
- Professional (housekeeping) folders include:
- Adobe Stock
- AWeber list notification
- Freelance Articles
- Frozen Crockpot
Create a folder for each category and then start sorting. You’ll thank yourself when you need new ways to market blog posts…check the content marketing folder. Pitching an article and want to create an editor-attention-getting headline? Looking for new clients? You know where to look! The information is indexed and easy to find and your future-self thanks you.
And does your perfect Sunday afternoon involve curling up with books about freelancing, marketing and copywriting, too? Guess what? Click through your resource files and I guarantee a few good reads and lots of actionable advice. (Confession: I’m a fan of both. My books sleep shotgun.)
I know it seems overly-simple and it is (create folders, genius…insert sarcasm) – but what good are all these resources if you can’t find anything in your pile of random information? It’s too easy to let your inbox become pages and pages of time-suck. But not you. You have a system. You’ve built a library so all that great info gets used and when you check your email you’re in and out because you file it and move on to more important things…like actual writing.