Email is the bane of my existence.  It is.  And considering the fact that most of my clients contact me via email, it is also a necessary evil.

But here’s the problem.  I’m working on a project and my cell phone “dings” every time a new email comes down the wire.  There’s a temptation there to pick up the phone and “real quickly” check it out….which, up until a month or so ago, I did.

By the time I get back to work, my mind is elsewhere ; my concentration is gone and I need a few minutes to re-acclimate to my task at hand.  And usually, the email doesn’t even pertain to work requests.  Usually, it’s an ad or an offer.

Once again, I can’t very easily turn off my phone.  So, what do you do?

#1 Kill the Distractions with  Giselle Navarro Mendez recommended this on Google+ a few weeks back and I decided to try it out.  What it does is take all those unneccesary emails and rolls them up into a digest.  Now, when the phone dings, I know that it is probably a client or, if nothing else, a personal friend. accomplishes this by creating a folder in your gmail account where all the unimportant stuff goes.  And every week, it sends you a list of things you could add to the list.

My cell phone dings no more….

Getting organized with email-

The first week of every month, I have a corporate client that I handle which needs me to do all their email marketing stuff for the month.  Throughout the month, they send me email after email with requests that would be pending at the beginning of the month.

And that is just one client.  Usually, I get 4-5 requests a week (usually small stuff).  What this amounts to is a lot of email spread all throughout my account…which is really hard to keep up with if you have a client that likes to send you stuff regularly.

So, what do you do?

#2 Organize Your Life with ActiveInbox

ActiveInbox – Active inbox allows me to easily label and segment important tasks.  It’s an add-on for gmail by Google.  The free version allows you to set tasks according to Next, Action and Waiting on.  You can also create “projects” (which is just another folder).

So, let’s say someone makes a request and you need more information….just label it waiting on.  You can also create a daily itinerary for yourself using the next and action folders.  Perfect.

I use this for the handful of websites I write for (like searchenginepeople) but mostly to handle requests for existing clients.

The “premium” version gives you a little more versatility and considering that the price tag is cheap ($25 / month), giving it a try won’t break the bank (write-off anyone?)

#3 Get a Peek into Your Client’s Online Life with Rapportive

Okay, so I have killed the distractions and am using email to stay organized.  What’s next?

This isn’t so much a way to handle email overload but to find relevance with those you do business with.

Rapportive-  Here’s the scenario.  A client emails you with a request that ties into a request they made a week or two back.  Rather than have to search for the original email rapportive gives you a way to find recent emails quickly.  Not only that, social signals that they have recently tweeted, liked or commented on linkedin, facebook, twitter and a host of other platforms are there for you to see.

So, the next time you get an request, you can see everything that the client (or friend or colleague  has done in the recent past.

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