Back Office Secrets: One Tool to Take Control of Your Inbox (and Your Sanity)

It’s every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare.

There you are, chugging along with your daily routine – talking to clients, making phone calls, wrapping up paperwork – when suddenly, an email appears in your inbox. And it is not happy to be there.

email

It’s a follow-up from a prospective client who was ready to hire you. She was the perfect client, and you were excited to work with her. Except you you forgot to follow up last week like you promised, and now she’s telling you she’s not sure she’s going to hire you.

It’s all you can do not to smack yourself on the forehead. How could you forget? You clearly remember saying you’d reply, but it seemed to slip your mind so easily.

Why did this happen? Well, the easy answer is: because we’re entrepreneurs – and the only thing more ridiculous than the hours we sometimes keep is the state of our inbox on a daily basis.

Here’s what I think is really going on: when you use your inbox as a to-do manager and when email is simply an item on your to-do list, emails get jumbled up with the hundred other things on our plate.

to-do list

Instead, each email should be considered a to-do item, and your inbox should never be used as a to-do list. These two bad habits are a big part of why emails fall through the cracks. The problem, of course, is that a whole lot more (like clients, business, and money) falls through the cracks with it.

Many smart entrepreneurs try methods for inbox management like inbox zero, which I personally love. However, I find that adding one additional tool to my inbox arsenal takes email management to a more streamlined, efficient, crack-free, business-boosting level – more than inbox zero can do on its own.

This nifty tool is designed to specifically manage my emails, help me remember to reply when I promise, follow up with others who may have forgotten a due date, and keep my inbox under control.

Enter: Boomerang

Boomerang is a Gmail add-on. It pops a “Boomerang” button right into your emails, letting you schedule messages ahead of time, create follow-up reminders, or have certain emails circle back around to the top of your inbox at a predesignated time.

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Using a tool completely dedicated to email, rather than a more traditional to-do list (like Things for Mac, my personal favorite, for example) works beautifully to streamline your business – because it’s specifically designed to work alongside your inbox and your schedule.

Boomerang has transformed my relationship with my inbox and keeps me on top of everything. Emails (and prospects) no longer fall through the cracks.

How Boomerang Helps Me Stay on Top of Emails

1. It helps me keep track of my outside commitments.

I do quite a bit of outside writing work for other blogs – LKR is one of them! So when the content manager at LKR sends over my posting schedule for the next six months, I Boomerang the message to return to my inbox 2 weeks before the next deadline. This helps me remember the due date during even the craziest weeks, as well as what I’m expected to dive in.

2. It streamlines my sales and client processes.

Boomerang helps me effortlessly take care of and track where things stand with potential clients.

First, my assistant uses Boomerang to manage prospect consult scheduling. When she emails the potential client about scheduling a consult, she Boomerang’s the message to return to her inbox in 5 days as a reminder to herself to make sure that person’s scheduled their appointment.

Second, I use it for follow-up emails with new clients. When someone says YES to working with me over the phone, but still needs to pay, I send the payment link then Boomerang the message to return to the top of my inbox in 3 days. This reminds me to make sure they’ve made their payment, so I can easily stay on top of each client’s payment status.

3. It helps me stay on top of my team’s tasks.

When I’m working with my team on a project, I Boomerang project-related emails to return to me the day of any given deadline to make sure everything’s on track. This makes it easier to keep on top of what’s going on with each person every step of the way.

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Want to check out Boomerang? You can do that HERE. (referral link).

Not using Gmail? I’ve heard good things about FollowUp.cc, which offers similar email management tools for other email applications.

What Indispensable Email Tools Do You Love? Tell us…

What tools have revolutionized the way YOU work? How’s your inbox looking these days… and what are your plans to improve it?

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