6 Ways to Manage Your Email Inbox—According to People Who Get 100+ Emails a Day

Between sifting through spam, crafting the right responses, and keeping tabs on the messages that require follow-up, staying on top of your inbox can feel like a job in itself. That’s why the Ignite Your Potential coaches curated a list of tips from professionals who have figured out the secret to efficient, organized inboxes—despite getting hundreds of emails a day.

1. Only Keep Emails Requiring Immediate Action in Your Inbox

No emails in your inbox might be too lofty an aim, but by being ruthless about which messages get to take up real estate in your inbox, you can get pretty darn close.

“Most days, my email inbox has fewer than 25 messages in it. This is intentional. I want to be able to open my inbox and immediately see what is most urgent and requiring a response,” says Leigh Ann Newman, a senior program manager at an international government consulting firm. “This habit pushes me to take action on items in an extremely timely manner.”

2. Create a “Waiting Folder” for Action-Pending Emails

So, where do emails go if not your inbox? Create a “waiting folder” for emails that require action from someone else before you can respond. “This is a huge time-saver,” says Darcy Miller, a workplace expert and founder of Pin and Pivot, who for many years was barraged with more than 150 emails a day. “That way those emails aren’t junking up your inbox, and it’s a great place to look each day or week to remind you of what projects are still pending.”

She learned this trick the hard way when, during the first year of her first job, she couldn’t find an email attachment she needed. “I spent half of a day looking for that email, among the thousands of emails that were in my inbox at the time,” she says. “I vowed from that moment on, I would take control of my inbox!”

3. Make Subfolders or Labels Your New BFF

Across the board, inbox mavens recommend creating an easy-to-decode subfolder or label system. Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics, estimates he gets upwards of 250 emails some days, so organization is paramount. “Email labels are your friend,” he advises. “Use them to group together important email chains, so when you need to look at something for reference, you can do so easily.”

4. Don’t Let Junk Mail Languish in Your Inbox

Feel like you’re playing whack-a-mole with promotional emails? Be swift with the unsubscribe button. Davis Siksnans, CEO and Founder of Printful, uses a three-strike rule for promotional emails and newsletters. The third time he deletes a newsletter or promo email from a specific sender, he unsubscribes from the list.

5. Set Aside Time Blocks for Checking Email

You probably wouldn’t leave your schedule open for meetings of unspecified times and lengths around the clock, so why give email free rein to intrude on your day?

“I don’t leave my email open all day long; I set specific times during the day to go through each email and thoughtfully respond, archive, or save for later. This way I don’t multitask, and I can get through all my emails more quickly because I am actually focused on the task at hand,” says David Mitroff, a business consultant. “I recommend that people start out with three different half-hour blocks a day to read through and respond to their emails and keep their inbox closed the rest of the day and adjust as necessary from there.”

6. Squeeze in Mindless Email Tasks During Downtime

Ensure email accounts are effectively synced to your phone and use idle moments to do quick inbox clean-up. “Lots of the messages I receive don’t require direct action,” says Ben Taylor, founder of HomeworkingClub.com. “Spam can be deleted, other things can be filed, and you can deal with plenty of these just while you’re in a two-minute supermarket queue.”

Wanting to know other organization tips to keep your inbox in optimal shape? Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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How to Make Your Commute So Much Better

At some point during your daily commute, you have likely experienced all five stages of grief. And while traffic is inevitable, it’s important to remember your morning commute doesn’t have to be a never-ending sequence of white-knuckling your steering wheel or squeezing yourself onto a full subway car. 

Here are a few ways to make your commute not only more bearable, but even enjoyable, whether you’re driving, biking, carpooling, or taking the train.

Drive Your Way to a Better You

Podcasts and audiobooks make the morning and evening commute worth living. Audible has over 425,000 books for you to choose from—you could be driving in your car every second for the rest of your life and you would never run out of books to enjoy.

Have you wanted to learn another language, but never seem to have the time? There are thousands of books that will help you get a leg up on all kinds of languages, whether you’re just starting out, or you want a refresher course for the Spanish you took in college. 

Practice Self-Care

One of the best things about taking the bus to work is that you can let yourself go—just promise that you won’t take your shoes off.

Sure, if you have the elbow room, you could open your laptop and get some work done by catching up on email, but it’s also an excellent time to de-clutter your mind. Step up your self-care regimen by unplugging your brain and starting a meditation practice.

Meet New People

What if there was a way to meet new people while driving to work AND get access to the glory that is the carpool lane? Sure, Waze can make your commute a little smoother by crowdsourcing your traffic trouble spots in real-time, but you can also use their carpool app to find coworkers or other passengers to share a ride with.

Not only are you eliminating congestion from the highway, but you’re also connecting with your fellow travelers. Plus, by taking other cars off the road, you’re producing less carbon and pollution, all while saving money on gas and tolls.

The time you spend commuting to work doesn’t have to be time wasted. Crack open an audiobook, find a little Zen, or make a new friend. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find ways to improve and hack your life. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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The Best Productivity Books to Read

It is halfway through August 2019, that means it is time to finish the year strong and productive.

The Ignite Your Potential coaches looked at data on Goodreads to identify 6 of the best productivity books recommended by their community of 85 million readers. From research on the science of forming habits to tips from an expert who works with World Series champions, these highly-rated books are sure to be your guide to a more productive life at work and at home.

1. Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear

James Clear demonstrates how the ability to create good habits—and break bad ones—can lead to a more productive personal and professional life. He backs up his scientific research with entertaining true stories from Olympic athletes, physicians, artists, and business leaders who have all mastered this skill. The key? Learning to think about your own identity in a new way.

2. Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon

The bestselling author of Steal Like an Artist offers life-changing, illustrated advice and encouragement on how to stay creative, whether you’re facing personal burnout or bogged down by distractions. Fans of this short but inspiring book state that it’s “a reminder of what we need to do to remain creative despite the chaos of the world around us.”

3. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport

If you’re very easily distracted and interested in using your time more productively, this is the book for you. From the author of Deep Work comes a guide for anyone looking to escape the endless distractions of cell phones, computers, smart watches, and more. This Georgetown professor will introduce you to the “less is more” philosophy, using stories of modern digital minimalists to prove his point.

4. The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It by Kelly McGonigal

According to Stanford lecturer Kelly McGonigal, the key to unlocking powerful resolve is in our hands. She explains why just five minutes of exercise or one minute of slow breathing can give anyone a boost of willpower. Goodreads members say McGonigal has “a knack for communicating difficult science in lay terms with a sense of humor to boot.”

5. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

For award-winning business reporter Charles Duhigg, the ability to form healthy habits drives every type of success, whether you want to manage a great team or build an influential product. In this book, he uses groundbreaking scientific research to explain why and how habits can unlock anyone’s potential.

6. The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

The simple checklist is more powerful than we realize, according to award-winning multitasker Atul Gawande. The surgeon and Harvard professor shows us the true power of this common productivity tool, from helping set realistic goals in our daily lives to guiding global business decisions. The modern world is full of too many complexities, Gawande argues, but a checklist, when used correctly, can provide clarity and focus.

We hope these book recommendations will inspire you to finish 2019 on a positive, productive note. Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help you find ways to increase your end of year productivity. We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

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How to be More Organized

One of the areas that you can work on with one of our life coaches or career coaches is your organizational structure. You want to be more organized, but you don’t know where to start. You may even think you’re stuck in a chaotic rut, and you’ll never be the type of person you want to be when it comes to organization. While some people are born with a preference to be organized, others are more challenged in this area. Still, it’s vital to remember, that no matter your preference, these habits are created with time and dedication. Here are a few tips from our coaches you can try today that will bring more order into your life.

Write It Down

We all know someone who seems to remember everything: meeting times, names, phone numbers, their obscure aunt’s birthday. These people don’t have photographic memories: they write things down.

be more organized

Writing down important information can help you be much more organized. You won’t miss that meeting, forget the dry cleaning, or leave that loaf of bread out of your grocery cart. Writing down people’s names shortly after meeting them can also help you avoid embarrassing moments of trying to figure out who you’re speaking with.

Notes can be taken on sticky notes and stuck in places where you’ll see them often; you can carry a small notebook; utilize a planner; and even download applications for your smartphone or tablet.

Prioritize

Let’s face it. We’re forced to multitask. We frequently have two, or more, things vying for our attention, so we try to divide our time up equally, and, usually, everything ends up being neglected. This is why it’s important to prioritize your activities.

We don’t need to be preoccupied with activities that are only stimulating for a few minutes, instead we should focus on what will benefit our goals in the long run. Calling a potential client is much more important than browsing the internet. While there’s nothing wrong with taking a break, it’s fundamental to prioritize our necessary commitments; they should come first.

Declutter

Do you find yourself digging through the stacks of paper on your desk to find something? Is your closest so overcrowded that you can’t find an outfit to wear? It might be time to step back and decide what’s most important to you.

Purging papers — like old meeting notes, junk mail, and unused magazines — can help you feel like you’re on top of things. If you know you’re not going to need that scrap of paper, recycle it! Don’t let it gather dust on your desk.

Going through old clothing can help as well. If you’re not going to wear it, donate it. Not only will you be doing a good deed, but it can streamline those mornings when you’re running late and don’t know what to wear.

Don’t Procrastinate

We’ve probably all done it: we put things off in hopes we’ll feel like doing them later. And guess what? We usually have to rush to finish them. Completing tasks in a timely manner can make your life less messy and more organized. You won’t have to be stressed about a last-minute deadline you have to meet; it’ll already be done.

be more organized

This tip doesn’t only help for work-related activities; it’s a great habit to create in every aspect of your life. Our number one suggestion in this area is to complete the task you least want to do first. As Brian Tracy says in his useful procrastination book, referring to this very suggestion, “Eat That Frog!”

Conclusion

Having an organized life may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. You can become the person you want to be by creating new, small habits, and these small changes, can transform your life. You can also have a complimentary 25-minute phone session with a #1 coach.

Level Up Your Note Taking: Make the Next Meeting Matter

First Things First

You likely spend time in meetings, and maybe some of you, a majority of your work life is within meetings. We’ve all experienced the draining, demoralizing feeling when a meeting is not productive. So before we begin to discuss best practices in note taking for said meetings, I want to turn you on to these useful tips by David Grady that help you attend less meetings and make sure, before you even attend, that they will be useful. Here is his hilarious TED talk called How to Save the World (or at Least Yourself) from Bad Meetings.

note taking

However, when you are in productive meetings, why might you want to make sure your note taking is masterful?

  • It will help you be more engaged and focused.
  • You will remember and capture needed information.
  • You will document proof that certain things did in fact occur.
  • Excellent note taking allows strategic thinking to emerge.

Upfront Guidelines

Your job when taking notes is to listen for and summarize key messages regarding:

  • Action Items,
  • Decisions,
  • Learnings,
  • Context, and
  • Notes relevant to you.

The whole purpose is for your learning and reference. Do not go in depth, you are not a court reporter. Less is more. Take partial notes that you can fill in after the meeting. In other words, write down enough to trigger your memory.

Preparation

Block ten minutes before the meeting for preparation. Ask yourself the follow questions and consider beginning your notes for the meeting at this stage.

  • The person leading the meeting, what are their objectives and agenda?
  • What are your objectives or agenda for the meeting?
  • What do you need to bring: discussion points, check-in data, etc?
  • Are there questions you need answered?
  • What would success look like for this meeting?

Block ten minutes after the meeting to synthesize your notes. Organize your to do’s, next steps, and deadlines in your tools of choice (project management software, calendar, app, etc.)

note taking

What Must be Captured

  • Action Items. To do’s, tasks, action requests. Keep this as clear as possible: Person X to do (specific task details) by (due date.) Who is suppose to do, what, by when.
  • Decisions. Outcomes and decisions agreed by the group.
  • Learnings, or follow-ups to learn something.
  • Intel, Observations, Strategy in summary.

Questions to Get the Right Info

While you never want to ask questions that take the meeting off course, there are questions that help clarify, keep you engaged, and help the meeting stay productive. Here are just a few that can help:

  • “Can someone please state the decision we’re making?”
  • “Can we recap decisions and next steps?
  • Use reflective listening. “Am I hearing that Barb will own X and Ted will deliver Z by this date?”
  • Ask the speaker clarifying questions that have them state key takeaways. “What do you think are the most important takeaways?”

Best Note Taking Apps in 2019

Using the best and most appropriate tools for the job at hand is an important aspect. Here are the best note taking apps in 2019.

Conclusion

taking better notes

Becoming masterful at taking notes in meetings means that you have all the information you need to do your job well. This basic skill is one that will set you apart and have you be more effective in your role. Topics and skills just like this are part of the support you can expect from an Ignite Your Potential career coach.

Our award-winning coaches at the Ignite Your Potential Centers offer a complimentary 25-minute phone session to help succeed at note taking! We are the #1 career coaches in San Francisco and the #1 career coaches in Los Angeles, let us show you how we earned that praise.

 

2019: The Year of Your Career

At the start of a new year there’s often a refreshed outlook and a sense of renewal. Part of this process involves career.  As the year begins though, do you find yourself going back to work after holiday vacation feeling a sense of dread as though you are about to endure another year in your career? Or are you stoked to get back to the contribution you’re a part of? What is your sentiment as you begin again?

Whatever your perspective or attitude, this time of year can be a fantastic time to refresh your career, your career outlook, or refine your career goals. Our team of career coaches at Ignite Your Potential can help you do this, and we’ve started this process for you, by sharing ways you can freshen your career for the New Year.

Clean Up Your Work Tools 

The first way to freshen your career is to clean up the tools you use most each and every day. Having unanswered emails, a crowded inbox, a messy desk, or unused apps on your phone is clutter in the workflow that slows us down. Here are tasks to clean your work tools:

  • Empty or organize your worktexts, emails, cloud folders, app notifications, and workspace.
  • De-clutter your online life by getting rid of software accounts you don’t use and unsubscribe from their marketing emails.
  • Organize your files and papers.
  • Revamp your work wardrobe. Get rid of items you no longer wear, that are too big, have a hole and you have yet to fix (or fix it), overall, purge your wardrobe of clothes that no longer serve you.

Refresh Your Career Documents

Whether you’re interested in potentially changing career paths, or see no career change on your horizon, updating your resumé and revamping your cover letter is a great way to prepare yourself for what opportunities could lie in the year ahead. You may be up for a promotion, you could be scouted, or one day you may have the urge to see what’s out there.

Ignite Your Potential features a team of expert career coaches who can help you update and improve your resumé, write or revise a cover letter, set your New Year career goals, or simply offer you the career advice you didn’t know you needed. Contact us today for a career boost!

Set a Clear Vision and Actionable Goals new year

Moving into the New Year, you probably have some old items on your to-do list that you weren’t able to get done. You may have some career goals you didn’t reach or your vision for your career changed. All of these are fine, they are part of what happens for all of us, and not any reason to beat yourself up. In fact, the New Year offers an opportunity to reset our goals and create a new vision. We can think in an actionable way about what’s next. It’s time to set fresh objectives informed by what you’ve experienced in 2018 to make a stronger plan that doesn’t fizzle out. Maybe 2019 is the year you get a new planner. 

Streamline Areas of Your Life to Impact Your Career

Think about your daily routine throughout this past year. Really deep dive into your day to day processes, duties, personal workflow, etc. Think strategically about ways you can make certain tasks or processes easier for you. For example, if you pack your lunch every day and take home the dirty container to add to your dishes later that night, try washing them at work instead so that you can just bring them home and reuse them for the next day. Find yourself carrying a briefcase or heavy purse every day full of things you don’t necessarily use or need to tote around? Try paying attention to the different items in your purse or briefcase you use on the regular, and if you discover unnecessary items, put them in their rightful place. If you think about your routine, the patterns that make up every day, you will discover strategies to create a more efficient personal workflow.

Get Inspirednew year

One of the best parts of the New Year is that it’s a time that offers us the opportunity to purge ourselves from the tribulations of the past year, take all of our lessons, and apply them to the year ahead. Every year reveals aspects of your career and life that no longer suits you, teaches you things you needed to know, and equips you with tools for your future. It’s time to let go of baggage you no longer need. Though setting “resolutions” in your career, or in general, may seem cliché to some, and are often abandoned shortly after, it doesn’t have to be this way. Making positive change happens incrementally, and seeing it this way, helps you keep the momentum to work toward your goals. Don’t make tons of changes all at once. Start by making little tweaks to your habits so that staying aligned with your goals is sustainable for you.

Ready to Freshen Your Career in a Big Way?

Ignite Your Potential can help you discover and build your career vision, assist you to find your passion, and help create a plan that stimulates exciting and empowering change in your career and life. If you’re ready to make 2019: the year of your career, contact us by filling out the form below:

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