How Can I Take Control of My Inbox?

How Can I Take Control of My Inbox?
How Can I Take Control of My Inbox?

Have you ever had moments in your life and career when you felt you had all your ducks in a row? Everything was under control and you felt good.

And, have you experienced the opposite — utter chaos? You felt as though a headless chicken running in every direction?

Most of us try to avoid that level of disorganization. But I believe it’s about what you do when life kicks into overdrive that separates the winners from the losers.

As music entrepreneurs, rather than viewing chaos as bad, we should train ourselves to view it as an opportunity to grow!

Email is something that can easily get out of control and if you don’t have filters and systems for how you handle it, it could quickly take over your life.

So, let’s consider the opportunity as well as the costs.

Why Would I Want to Get Email Out of My Inbox?

What’s all this talk about email?

Why in the world would I want to receive fewer messages? I already get so few!

I know where you’re coming from. I used to feel the same way:

“100 emails per day? I would love to have that problem!”

Now that the volume of emails in my inbox has increased and along with it my workload, I feel differently.

I get all kind of requests and people always seem to want to impose their own deadlines on me. On my own business.

Don’t get me wrong — I want to connect with people like you. People who are serious about taking their music career beyond.

And, I even answer direct messages on social media and sometimes offer free advice, even though my contact page says I don’t.

But for me to fulfill on my commitments and goals (did I mention I want to publish 10 to 12 books this year?), it’s important that I have long stretches of uninterrupted time blocks in my schedule.

But the general expectation today is that you are connected 24/7. I don’t know about you, but I’m not always online or available for a call. I savor the moments I’m able to get away from my devices.

So, if you can’t answer all your emails, if it’s taking up a huge amount of your productive time or you’re missing out on gigs and other opportunities, it’s time to get your email out of your inbox — something I learned from my coach James Schramko.

Methods for Redirecting Email

So, how exactly do you get email out of your inbox and start taking control?

In this section, I’ll cover a few methods you can explore.

And, to be perfectly honest, although I recently implemented the first method mentioned here, I’m still looking for the best fit for my business.

Opening a Support Desk (Ticketing System)

One of the reasons I get so many emails is because people want to write guest posts or advertise on The Music Entrepreneur HQ. Again, good problem to have.

I’ve gone back and forth on this issue of guest posting, but honestly, I don’t think it will be long before I permanently close the doors on submissions. More on this later.

I also get quite a few requests to cover stories about artists and various tech companies. I used to spend a lot of time developing features, but as our contact page says, we’re primarily focused on creating on-brand content right now.

Anyway, I found a simple way to separate those who were merely interested in getting a link from us from those who were serious about contributing something of value.

I started charging for guest posts.

If people want to work with us that badly, they should be willing to put their money where their mouth is. Literally. And, isn’t that what entrepreneurship is all about?

So, with this procedure in place, I started redirecting emails to a support desk.

I chose Freshdesk, but there are a lot of great apps out there, including Help Scout. Use what works for you.

This solved the problem of my inbox filling too fast, but it didn’t solve my time constraints. Now I essentially had two inboxes to check.

So, I hired a freelancer on Upwork to handle the support tickets for me. I created a spreadsheet for her, explaining how to respond to various queries.

And, so far, this has worked well. I should also note that it has been very cost-efficient.

Of course, now that I’m starting to think about shutting the gate on guest posts altogether, once the requests start slowing down, my support person would have a lot less to do.

And, honestly, the amount I’m charging to edit, format and prepare posts for publishing is peanuts. I would not have sneezed at it in the past, but it’s barely worth it for me anymore.

I make plenty of money doing what I do, so I’m not desperate for new contracts. For the right price, right person and right kind of project, I’ll mobilize. But otherwise count me out.

Getting an Assistant to Handle it

This is the option that I’m now considering more seriously because I see some possibilities.

I wouldn’t just have an assistant handle my email. I would also have her handle other tasks like social media, WordPress, and so on.

Much has been said about the myth of the super virtual assistant. So, I know not to give my prospective assistant too much to do.

At the same time, one of my acquaintances, Tim Francis, is a strong believer in the super assistant, and even has one that handles a multitude of tasks.

What this tells me is that it’s all about how you set things up.

You can’t expect the world from your assistant out the gate, but if you provide them with the tools and systems necessary to do their job, over time, they could learn to do many things well.

I also know this is how Jonathan Coulton ultimately dealt with the insane amount of emails he was receiving from fans as he was gaining momentum in his career in the early days.

I would argue that this is still a more personal way to handle communication than with support tickets.

Choosing a Different Mode of Communication

I’ve been getting into Dan Kennedy books as of late.

And, I know from reading his materials that he only accepts communication via fax — he doesn’t engage in email, texting or social media — and for good reason.

For one, when people reach out to him, they must think carefully about their request before they put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

That automatically cuts down on excessive communication. And, of course, because many people don’t own a fax, they must go out of their way to send their faxes over.

Second, Dan can read the request and respond at a time that’s convenient for him. And, there is no expectation that he will respond immediately.

Third, it’s the only way Dan can even be reached. So, Dan doesn’t have to check email inboxes, voicemail, social media direct messages and so on.

I’ve thought about getting a fax machine.

I’ve also thought about getting a mailbox and having people communicate with me via snail mail.

For the time being, I’ve chosen to be accessible through several channels (especially email), but that doesn’t mean I always respond in a timely fashion.

Oftentimes, I go through all my emails once or twice per month. And, maybe that’s just how things ought to be, and maybe I should set expectations around that.

Taking Control of Your Career

If you don’t think email matters, think again.

From James Schramko I learned that getting control of your email is the first step to success in business.

If you don’t take control, you risk living a good chunk of your life based on other people’s agenda for you.

Communication not handled can impact many areas of your life. Productivity loss is inevitable if you allow email to control your schedule. There is usually an opportunity cost too.

So, if you’ve never thought about how you’re going to handle your email over the long haul, now is a good time to start thinking about it.

What method would you use to handle your email? Are there other possibilities you see?

Let us know in the comments below.

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Originally published at on May 28, 2019.

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