“Did you get my email?” says every publicist on the planet. In today’s PR world, checking your email inbox is similar to Pandora’s box: once it’s open, you’re exposed and can never go back.
Behind every email is a person trying to get something done. They want you to do something. Buy this. Help that. Write this. Promote that. Review this. Fix that. Did you know that, on average, business professionals sent and received 121 emails a day in 2014
Media pitches, client proofs, social media posts, press release drafts—you name it! These conversations usually start and end in email form. Searching frantically for that client approval, waiting patiently for that influential blogger to say yes, getting the green light on that social media strategy plan—sometimes it’s all in the inbox, the “everything” box.
Even when your PR workday is over, managing your email inbox can seem like an impossible task that never seems to stop. As a PR executive, sorting out spam from important emails is a daily battle. Often, I find myself handling yesterday’s information rather than today’s.
What Do the Power CEOs Do?
In order to keep a clear mind (and inbox), it’s important to stay digitally organized. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, recommends using a method called Yesterbox. For the Yesterbox approach, it’s imperative that you separate your inbox into six different folders: Yesterbox, Today, Action Required, Awaiting Response, Delegated, and Archived. By doing this, you can simultaneously manage your inbox while creating a “to do” list for yourself based on yesterday’s mail.
Getting your inbox down to zero may seem virtually impossible, but by utilizing these six different folders, you can get yourself there:
- Yesterbox: This folder is specifically for the emails you received yesterday. Depending on your email account, there are multiple ways to ensure that your mail from yesterday ends up in this folder without having to manually move each one individually.
- Today: This folder is pretty straightforward. The Today folder is strictly for emails we receive today and it’s important to keep it separate from the “Yesterbox” mail.
- Action Required: For all emails that require a task or follow-up, it’s important to place them into this folder.
- Awaiting Response: For important emails from upper management or clients that need responses as soon as possible, the “Awaiting Response” folder will prioritize them for you.
- Delegated: As a PR professional, it’s essential to delegate certain tasks to others. This folder helps organize those emails you forwarded to other employees or team players.
- Archive: Last, but not least, the Archive folder is important to maintain your inbox. For those emails you want out of your inbox, but aren’t ready to be deleted, the Archive folder will act as a temporary trash can for the mail you don’t want to delete.
Social PR Secret: Skip the email for tasks, use online communication tools like Slack to help clear out your inbox (and skip a step!)
One important tip when organizing your Yesterbox is scheduling a set time to sift through yesterday’s mail. It’s key that you analyze how much time it typically takes you to go through your emails, and set aside that time frame early in the morning. Treat yesterday’s inbox like a meeting to ensure that you allow yourself enough time to process each email.
This allows you to sift through your emails quickly, while still setting aside time for those responses that require more attention. For non-urgent emails, Tony Hsieh recommends forwarding them to your personal email account to read when you have spare time. After finishing 10 emails from yesterday, you can take three actions when approaching today’s mail: delete, file, or forward. Only if an email is absolutely urgent or is a follow-up from a previous day’s email should you take time to respond.
To read Tony Hsieh’s full breakdown of Yesterbox and find a step-by-step guide on how to specifically manage your account.
My #SocialPRSecrets for Email Superpowers
- Email Timing: Yes, it used to be you could send out emails over the weekend ahead of time for Monday morning, but now everyone is on email via mobile, getting them in real-time. So, it’s important to think about whether we want to possibly “interrupt” the person we are emailing or have them see we emailed them in the middle of the night. Or can we accomplish our email communications with a system that sends the email at a scheduled time to accomplish the same goal? Getting your own work done on your time without interrupting someone else’s free time is key.
- Email Time Blocking: It’s the golden rule in The One Thing—time block when to check email and whatever you do, don’t spend your mornings answering emails. Block off time at lunch and the afternoon to check and answer emails.
- Email 007: Know Who Opens Your Email: I love this secret weapon so much I almost didn’t want to share it. I started using Sidekick by Hupspot about a month ago and I love how it keeps me in “the know” (in real-time) about who opens my emails and when.
So, no more calling the media and asking, “Did you get my email?”
Want more? Read Lisa Buyer’s Social PR Secrets.
Reported by Ricky Cutler Image Source: Wikipedia- Creative Commons