Does anyone else get super overwhelmed in their work email and end up consumed for hours? We feel your pain. Without proper management, a work email just seems like an endless black hole. That’s why in this podcast we are talking about how to improve email efficiency so you guys can keep it under control and improve your lives. Less time in email means more time doing everything else.

Hosted By
Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer
Stacy Brockmeier
Stacy Brockmeier Account Executive

Does anyone else get super overwhelmed in their work email and end up consumed for hours? We feel your pain. Without proper management, a work email just seems like an endless black hole. That’s why in this podcast we are talking about how to improve email efficiency so you guys can keep it under control and improve your lives. Less time in email means more time doing everything else. 

Transcription

Monica Pitts  0:01  

Hello, again this is Monica Pitts. Welcome to marketing with purpose and with me today is our efficiency and process master at MayeCreate Stacy Brockmeier. Hey guys!  Today, okay so one of the things that Stacy has been teaching in the office a lot and really to our clients as well is how to improve email efficiency because we've been doing some hiring and we have some new friends around here. And we noticed that it takes them forever to get through their email every single day. And Stacy has a magic way that she handles her email and I have a less magic way that I handle my email. And we want to discuss those today. So that way you guys can also be like, efficient emailers and improve your lives because you have more time.

Stacy Brockmeier  0:54  

Absolutely. So we get millions maybe if emails day I know it's not Millions but it really feels like million some days. And just making sure that we have those organized and so that maybe they don't take you know, your entire day to check your email is always a super positive thing. Getting through it quickly,

Monica Pitts  1:16  

The first thing that I feel like people have to do with their email to keep it under control. It took me a long time to do this. But when I first started the company, I was both developing websites and talking with clients. And I realized that I was just responsive all the time, this email would come in and respond to it just responding, responding, responding. And so I feel like the very first trick to regardless of what magical methods you use to manage the actual physical emails, is setting boundaries with your email, for example, I get in in the morning and sometimes I check my email and sometimes I don't it depends on whether I have a must do task on my schedule if there's something that absolutely has to get done that morning. I do not get into my email first thing, because I am going to get consumed by it. And the other thing that I do is I only check my email periodically throughout the day. And then I close it down. I don't even get into it unless I have to. Because I think email is almost as bad as social media. You get in there and you're like, oh, Sherry emailed me, that's so awesome. And then you read Sherry's email, and you respond to Sherry's email, and before you know it, you've spent 20 minutes in there and you didn't you can't even remember why you went in.

Stacy Brockmeier  2:32  

Absolutely. I think just making a plan, whatever you do, stick with it. Like for example, I check my email before I ever come to the office, because then I can, like, you know, delete that target email that I didn't really need, but I love target. So I just really liked reading their emails. And so I can get some of those things out of the way that aren't necessarily work related, but they still come into my email. And also, I can see and be prepared If there's something like literally blowing up, not literally things don't literally blow up in our world today, they figuratively blow up in our world. And so if we can get those things out of the way or know what we're walking into with our email, I always think that makes me feel better all day long.

Monica Pitts  3:19  

And the other thing that I do to increase my productivity is I turned off the email alerts that pop up on my screen. I can't tell you how disrupted I am by continual alerts on my screen, so I just turn them off like.

Stacy Brockmeier  3:34  

absolutely, I have no alerts for my email on my phone. I have no alerts for my email on my screen. And honestly, if I could get rid of some of like the little nuances, I totally would like you know, the email account and stuff like that, but apparently, that's not something you can get rid of anymore. So Oh, like how many you haven't read? Yeah, absolutely. You know, people look at my phone. I think you've looked at my phone before

Monica Pitts  3:57  

and you're like, oh my god. Monica, you have like 400 unread text messages. How can you handle yourself?

Stacy Brockmeier  4:05  

Her phone is terrifying to me if you're like, even just a little bit detail-oriented because I'm going to be real honest with you, I am not the most detail-oriented person anymore. Like I used to be something about having multiple children really kind of sucks that out of you. But Monica's phone is terrifying.

Monica Pitts  4:26  

I don't even notice it. I just- they come up and I will read first like five words of the texts. And I'm like, all right, got it. Read it. Done. And I don't even worry about it full of little red circles.

Yeah, it's scary. If you need to have a business conversation with me, you need to email me. I won't respond to it immediately. But you definitely need to email me okay. So that's the first thing is just setting boundaries with your email and making rules for yourself and holding yourself accountable. So you're not continually doing social email like social mediaing your email.

Stacy Brockmeier  5:00  

Yeah, I just made and if you're not sucked in 24 hours a day, what feels like 24 hours a day so, so the way you sleep,

Monica Pitts  5:08  

The way that I handle my email is through the priority inbox. Whenever it came out through Gmail, and we use Gmail in our office. I just turned on the priority inbox and I never looked back. Actually, I looked back for like the first month, and I realized how many hundreds of emails I get a day that really never mattered to me. So let's talk through some of the pros and cons of using like this auto system of the priority inbox to manage your email.

Stacy Brockmeier  5:37  

Yeah, so I think also, it's defining your role if you're the person who talks back and forth with everyone every day, so in our office, that would be an account manager. Priority Inbox may not be for you because you do need to see those, you know, messages from LinkedIn. So for example, if I have a prospect and they've chosen to engage with me through LinkedIn, I need to see those notifications. And in the priority inbox, things are broken down into your primary inbox, your updates inbox and your social inbox. And honestly, for me, I would never probably check those other ones, which means I could really be missing out on a really good lead for our company. Because I do connect with a lot of people on LinkedIn that way.

Monica Pitts  6:26  

Yeah, I, I curate my email, I go out and I say, this Facebook group has the right to come into my priority inbox and this type of email has the right like these newsletters have the right to come into my priority inbox, but I have to do it with every single one of them that I actually want to see. So at the beginning of the school year, I have to go out and allow, allow or ask Google to put my children's class Facebook pages, the notifications into my priority inbox. And sadly, I forgot to do that, at the beginning of this year, and my husband will come home and be like, hey, check this out, you know, Aveleen was on Twitter.

Stacy Brockmeier  7:12  

Yeah, I'm like, shucks,

Monica Pitts  7:16  

I feel like I'm missing out. I like seeing what they're doing. But on the other hand, I mean, I still, they're still my kids. And I like them. So I guess we're okay even without the social media happening.

So it is true. And I did some checking back and forth, and I created some filters, but it's definitely a general system. And when I'm hiring those LinkedIn hiring emails, they don't come into my inbox. And so I have to go out to LinkedIn and check those messages. Or I have to know to go to the social tab to check those messages. So this isn't nearly as tailored as what Stacy does or what the project managers do. But for me, because I'm not expected to converse with people that I don't know every single day. It works really well for me. So you could use those guidelines if, yeah, that fits you.

Stacy Brockmeier  8:03  

I think it just has to do with being diligent and aware of what goes in and what doesn't go in. Yeah.

Yeah. So tell us, tell us your secret in the gmails.

Unknown Speaker  8:16  

Yeah, so I use a little bit different style of inbox. So in Gmail, there's a setting and you can have essentially different layers of inbox, much like what Monica was talking about, but they're all on one screen. And so I have mine set up to where everything that is important and unread is at the top. And so I've trained my email little bit to know what's important and unread, but ultimately, everything that's from a real person goes at the top. And then after I read it, it either drops down to the very bottom, in what I call everything else. I think you can call it whatever you want. Mine's called everything else. And they so it either drops down there or if I say Star it or tag it a certain way it goes into one of these two middle sections that I have. So my start emails, I use those as kind of my to-do list if you will. So if I start, it means that I read it, I acknowledged it, I'm going to save it for later. Now I as the efficiency master that I am, if it is a 30 second response, I'm going to respond to that person and get it out of there and never want to have to look at it again. However, if it's something that's going to take me, you know, 15 minutes to gather some assets or gather some details. I want to start that so that I know that I can come back to it later. And then I have this other section that I've added in there that's kind of like a, hey, these are things I need to keep on my radar. You know, they're really long term or it's something I know I'm going to need and months and I actually collapse that I don't look at that every day, but it's nice to have that stared section because then I know like how much I have to do from my email or I know I can go right back there and it doesn't get lost in the all the other emails and so then I have kind of an another tool that I use it's called unroll me and that's where I put all the retailer emails except for target because you know, I have this like love of my target emails and so my target emails don't get put in unroll me they come to the main inbox, but this kind of get sends me a recap email at the end of every day with the emails that went into that folder. And so that's always really nice. So that's unroll.me because then I don't need to look at those necessarily every day. It is free. I think you can have like up to 150 different emails in it for free. And it's

Monica Pitts  10:56  

like grid fashion, and it's got pictures and I did that to begin with and then but it goes to my updates folder and so I never actually read it. Like I literally if I am in line at say Carter's and they send you a coupon, right? Yeah, I just open up my email and go to the updates folder and search for Carter's and opened up their last email. And that is the only time that I go into the updates folder unless I like changing my password or something like that. Yeah, absolutely. But I don't even think enrolling sends me emails anymore, because I never opened them after the first like couple days, the first month or so I was like, this is so cool. And then I just, but hey, I think part of that's just realizing what's important to you. Right? Yeah. Because I don't need it. Really. I thought I did. And I was archiving all those babies. And then I'm like, man, I don't even actually need any of this stuff.

Stacy Brockmeier  11:51  

Yeah, I can't tell you that. I read my unroll.me email all the time, but it's handy that it like just goes ahead and sucks it out of your inbox. Because then in that everything else section is everything that was unread. And not deemed important by my email. And so but I don't lose anybody's stuff. So if I got a LinkedIn message and it goes down there, if I got an email from somebody that I have never responded to or emailed in the past, I can just go down through there. And if you didn't know this little trick, you can narrow down and hit X and Gmail, and it will check all the boxes. And so I can go down really quickly, and get rid of all those emails that don't matter. Or I definitely catch those emails that do matter. Because occasionally you're like, Oh, that's actually a real email. It's not just somebody who wants to write for our blog.

Monica Pitts  12:47  

Stacy taught me this awesome trick. Whenever Gmail came out with their new interface on iPhone, I was freaked out because I could no longer check the boxes to delete all the emails and math, and I was reading them individually and it was hurting my heart and I'm so I was having a meltdown about it basically is what was happening. I was like, ah, and I'm like, Stacy, this is happening. And she says, Oh, you just click on the little circle, the little circle with the people's face in it, or the letter in it, or whatever it is. Those circles are the new checkboxes.

Stacy Brockmeier  13:24  

Yeah, you wouldn't know it unless you’re accidentally doing it. But you can just check those little circles and l delete in mass on your phone too. Which is ultimately what I do in the mornings because then I don't have all that stuff to get through when I get to the office. But the arrow down x is awesome. Yeah. So that's on your desktop browser.

Monica Pitts  13:42  

Yeah. So tell me then you were talking about, you know, checking your email and getting it out of your inbox. So do you archive it? Or do you put it in a folder? I know back in the day, you used to have a folder for like each client and you would meticulously file everything and I was like, Whoa, I cannot handle this, but it is awesome that you do it. Do you still do that? Or how do you do that?

Stacy Brockmeier  14:06  

So, when I was an account service person, I used a little bit of the outlook method. If you ever use Outlook email, there's like folders for everyone. And I definitely put everything for that client in that folder. Because it's super important when you're going through, you know, a three month process with somebody that you can easily go look for groups of emails, yeah. And so it really worked out well to do that. I can't say that I do that as much anymore because I'm not managing that process or that that relationship I'm usually talking to someone you know, who I'm going to talk to for a few months and then I'm going to be done talking them because I'm not done. We're not I'm not gonna ignore you. You're not going anywhere. But then Erica is actually going to talk to your Jacob or someone else in our office is going to be your primary point of contact. And so I use archive a lot more than I used to but if I were the person who are managing those accounts, I would still definitely use that folder system or it's called labels in Gmail.

Monica Pitts  15:08  

Do you ever delete emails after you're done?

Stacy Brockmeier  15:12  

 I don't.

Monica Pitts  15:13  

 I totally delete things.

Stacy Brockmeier  15:16  

I only delete the things that like aren't work related. Really? Yeah, I don't delete email at all, because, well, quite frankly, we have unlimited storage. And there have been times, so back in the day, I did have to go through and like pull out a bunch of emails, like three or four years of emails and still to this day, like there are times where I need to go back and look at a few of those things. And so I'm kind of an email hoarder.

Monica Pitts  15:46  

I hoard anything that I actually wrote. So let me clarify that. I get a lot of emails from our project management system, or from billing, which is a group email address. And so I will read the billing email address, I'll read the billing email so I know what's going on and then I just delete it because I know that I'm never going to have to have it again because I'm not the person that's responding to it. And anything that comes from our project management system, I go out to the project management system and work in there it's all recorded out there so I just after I'm done with them I just delete them all because I'm like I like if I wanted it, I would never search for it via email, I would go back out to the project management system and I would get it there, so I've just made the decision to delete. Now I have never cleaned out my trash can though.

Stacy Brockmeier  16:35  

I do delete the project management software sometimes because it's like it's not really with you. Well, either it's not related or it's like somebody saying you're welcome. And I'm like I don't need that email because everything before it is actually in another email that I was too afraid to delete and I archived instead. 

Monica Pitts  16:53  

That is like my process drama. I'm like, would you guys stop just like having a one word response in the project management system that I'm going to have to open 15 of those emails or 20 of those emails a day with like, thank you. You're welcome.

Stacy Brockmeier  17:08  

Yeah, like, we love it. You're super polite. But

Monica Pitts  17:13  

you know the difference in personalities, I think just they don't have the sheer number of emails that we have in a day. And so it, it makes it so the MayeCreaters are real nice. 

Yeah, they are super nice. And I think nice people are annoying

Stacy Brockmeier  17:29  

 but I like that you're polite to an extent until I have to like delete your email from and I think, you know, telling you to have a good weekend because you've been emailing back and forth. Hey, I love you, but I don't need you to do that for me.

Circling back around here. Yeah, so like our designers, my method really works well for them because they do need to see alerts from system so like, you know if there's a file change warning or something, they definitely need to see those and I don't want them going into like their updates folder or something like that. So I think it really boils down to your role if you need to use one system or the other.

Monica Pitts  18:10  

One thing I use a lot also is filters. So the reason that all of the project management emails that I want to see, and not all of the project management emails, but still a lot more of them that happen come into me is because I've set up a filter that using certain parameters actually brings me the emails that I want, so I can put in the subject line or who it's from, and basically build this filter so that way it brings it into my inbox. Because before when we remember when we first got the project management system, and you and I were like, What just happened? We didn't do it like there were so many emails. And so then we used filters to do those and you can use filters to do a lot of things. You can forward emails to other people.

Stacy Brockmeier  19:00  

Yeah, you can use it for so many things I actually. So speaking of the project manager management system, I actually export my filters and import them to any new email I create for a new employee. Because I'm like, hey, you need these, and I'm gonna set your email up for you. And I'm gonna put these filters in there right away. Because it tells us like, this is your responsibility. You know, it'll like literally say, you get I think I literally have a tag called active club responsibilities. Yeah. And so if it's directly related to me, it puts this like, nice little purple tag on it. Yeah.

Monica Pitts  19:40  

Yeah. And the tags can show up. So like, explain what the tags are in your inbox, like, what do they look like and how those work

Stacy Brockmeier  19:47  

and you gotta love that they've changed the name of them from tags to labels, and I can't get I can't get past it. Like I still tag it. So it makes sense. Yeah, um, so they show up actually, just right next to the subject line. Like before the subject line, so we like name, label subject line. And so like I even have some they're like add to billing because certain things have to be added to billing. And that's like bright red. Or they're a box. Yeah, it's like a box rectangle, it shows up, and it says the name of your label in it.

Monica Pitts  20:19  

And it helps me a lot too, because voicemails, for example, if somebody had took a message from me on the phone, they email it to me. And then they use the same subject line. And it says voicemail in it. So then Gmail knows and it puts a tag next to it that's red, and it says to do voicemail, and then I know that that thing needs to be handled first before my other tasks in my email. So another question I have is, do you clean out your email like every day, do you make sure that there's like nothing left? or What does it look like at the end of the day using your system with the email?

Stacy Brockmeier  20:59  

Yeah, so I just I really am a huge advocate for having everything at least read by the end of the day, and having everything read before the very beginning of the day. And so even if there's stuff in that starred section of my inbox, there's never anything when I leave that's in that top unread and important section. Okay.

Monica Pitts  21:24  

But then there's still might be stuff down in the bottom longer section that just catches all

Stacy Brockmeier  21:29  

yeah, that catch all section. It definitely always has stuff in it. Because it grows so fast.,

I think there's like 50 emails, like every half hour or something, come in down there. Sometimes it's maybe it's not quite that much. But sometimes you're I look at it and I'm like, oh, there's a lot of stuff down there. But so I try to glance at that definitely before I leave every day but at the top, I've checked to see if there's any fires at the top of my email. 

Monica Pitts  21:59  

So because I use the priority inbox, I almost always get rid of everything, like I may have one or two things that are left over that I need to work through. And the other thing that I do is because I don't have like a secondary place to put them where I will see them, like if it's something that has to be accomplished, and I'm not going to get to it right now, and I won't get to it, say tomorrow or the next day, then I'll either put it on my to do list or I'll schedule it on the calendar, so it doesn't just forever get lost. But I do because I have the priority inbox and I don't get anything that I don't specifically ask for in it, I make sure that it doesn't have a bunch of extra stuff in it because otherwise, I would have missed that top portion of your time, which is the urgent and important column. So yeah, that's awesome.

Stacy Brockmeier  22:50  

Can we do a bonus tip? What? I love Google Task Manager. So it is this thing it's a to do list that can be on the side of your email. And you can like check it off. So I don't have to have like that piece of paper to have a to do list anymore. And so it's in the side of my email. So if I have something, I can just be like, put this in my Google Task Manager. And then they also have an app for like your iPhone or Android. So I can manage it from anywhere and I can put stuff on it, I really like it a lot.

Monica Pitts  23:22  

which is really handy for you because you work from home a lot more than I do. And so that, for me, I like can't handle it, like I start, I start creating extra. And I mean, maybe it's because I'll use it like intermittently. But I'll start creating task lists and lists and then I have things. I have tasks from years ago that are in my task manager that I've never gotten back to look at. So I like have to use the old school system of an appointment book that has all the stuff in it and I move it from week to week or from day to day to make sure that It gets accomplished I, and I can't I meltdown inside of the digital to-do list. I can't do it. 

Stacy Brockmeier  24:10  

 So today is the first day this whole week. It's Friday, just so you know when we're recording this is the first day this week that I've actually been in the office because I've had a conference, I had to give a talk, which was super exciting. So I am just so on the road that I can't take- Actually, I can I'm just not responsible enough to take a like physical book or notebook with me. Yeah, every day. So

Monica Pitts  24:37  

but it's interesting because we've had other employees that use the digital task list. And if you don't use it the right way, like the way that Stacey uses it, and I've seen her use it as she has task lists for different types of things. So it's kind of like her inbox where she's got the urgent and important she's got task lists for other people about what she needs to talk with them about. So she's managing it in a very organized fashion. What would happen, what has happened with some of our, with our production people is they'll get like this huge list and they can't sort through it as urgent and important. It's just exhaustive. It's like a whole page. And it's terrifying. You have to get it sorted.

Stacy Brockmeier  25:16  

I try to make sure that mine like, fits like I don't have to scroll. Like when I'm on my desktop. I don't want to have to scroll in that task list. like yeah, if it is gonna be if it's gonna fall off that long, probably isn't the place for it, honestly. You use your calendar too to make sure you get the things done. I use that Google Calendar a lot. If it has to happen on a certain day like payroll, stuff like that. That's not in my tasks list ever that's on my calendar. But then I also get that email and I can always start that email for my Google Calendar. So yeah, it's pretty slick,

Monica Pitts  25:52  

so many fun things. So I think that we covered it all. I think we do to this is great. I hope that you guys feel empowered to go back and try some of these fun things with Gmail. I mean, there are even more things than we talked about in Gmail, like canned responses that which are templates and, what's amazing about all these features in Gmail as I sound like a Gmail salesperson, it's just because like I'm so bought in. But Stacy, every time that she sets up somebody's email account, she can duplicate all of these things. So down to the address list to the I mean, like all of its importable and exportable so it's really, really convenient as new people come in, especially project managers because their email is so important.

Stacy Brockmeier  26:44  

So yeah, if they're missing emails, our clients are really mad. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  26:51  

So we just covered like a ton of ideas, like tons of ideas, pretty much drinking through a firehose at this point, just like so many things. So If you guys are super interested in this, please go out to our blog we always make a blog post about every podcast which is - Okay, let's try that just one more time may create calm which is MayeCreate.com/blog to find the article about managing your email and then also we have our podcast notes.

Stacy Brockmeier  27:30  

Yeah, our show notes are at podcast.mayecreate.com

Monica Pitts  27:37  

Awesome. Well, thank you so much for listening. This is Monica Pitts and Stacy Brockmeier.

Unknown Speaker  27:42  

Now get out of here. I know that you have tons of other things to do, you know, like, go reorganize your email already. 

Stacy Brockmeier  27:48  

It's not gonna check itself.

Monica Pitts  27:49  

No, it won't. Go forth and market with purpose.

So we just covered like a ton of ideas like tons of ideas. Pretty much drinking through a firehose at this point, just like so many things. So, if you guys are super interested in this, please go out to our blog, we always make a blog post about every podcast which is mayecreate.com/ 

Okay, let's try that just one more time. Mayecreate.com which is mayecreate.com/blog to find the article about managing your email and then also we have our podcast notes.

Stacy Brockmeier  28:35  

Yeah, our show notes or a podcast mayecreate.com.

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