Email Overload II (Demo): How To Stop Being A Slave To Your Email Inbox

The video below is a step-by-step demonstration of how to master your email inbox.

This is a follow-up to this guest post I wrote at Steve Scott’s site: Managing Email Overload: How to Stop Being a Slave to Your Email Inbox and the result of 1) a couple of people asking me more about that article and how exactly I employ the practices I describe using my preferred email client (Gmail) and 2) the fact that, as you will tell from watching the video, I really need to practice my video skills.

1st Video – Things Can Only Get Better…

My first video was a bit dodgy, using free software (Camstudio) which meant I had no possibility to edit the video before publishing, or at least if I could I didn’t know how to with that software. I had several attempts and eventually made do with a video which did everything I’d challenged myself to do, if with a chopped off introduction. The video was pretty badly produced and told me I had a lot to learn about video but I decided to post it anyway here: How To Create A 100% Free Website In Less Than 3 Minutes.

2nd Video – An Excuse For A New Laptop

This video is also pretty poor, though again, hopefully sufficient to show the practicalities of what I’m talking (badly) about. This time, I did get some better software working (Camtasia Studio) though it made my crappy PC really creak and the only way I could get it to work was by reducing the number of frames per second. The great news is that this software allows editing so I had a little go at that, chopping out some pauses and a couple of minutes of the dog barking in the background. I’m not sure in the end if it’s the fact that my PC froze and was otherwise very slow, the reduced frames per second or my editing which has caused the audio track to be out of synch with the video, perhaps a bit of each.

I know it’s bad but hopefully an improvement on the first video, if only a slight one. Having recorded these, at least I have something to work with and improve upon. I need to work on making my voice clearer (you wouldn’t think I’d presented to thousands of people watching this) and on making better use of that software. I would love to know what you think of either video, even if the feedback is ‘constructive’ (don’t worry, I can take it).

I hope at least you got some good practical tips from these – please do let me know what you think.


Email Overload II (Demo): How To Stop Being A Slave To Your Email Inbox — 19 Comments

  1. My kind of advice, Alan – practical, simple, and to the point.

    And don’t worry about the videos. I’ve realized that I spent way too much time trying to make them perfect, yet I get the same return no matter how much time I spend on them. lol

    By the way, thanks for reading my blog and your encouragement.

    • Hey Ana,

      thanks so much for saying so & for stopping by.

      re: the encouragement, as I said it’s the least I could do as you have provided a lot of value to me and others. I still feel like a n00b but I’d be more of a n00b without your excellent advice.

      So my offer stands – if I can help you in any way, I will – you have my email address from comments I’ve left at your place 😉

      Otherwise keep doing what you’re doing – you are an inspiration to lots of people when it comes to finding their way online, me included,

      take care & best wishes,

  2. Great idea of including YOU as well in the video as you talk! I am using the folders solution actually, but sometimes I just miss some of my mails, so this is not a good one, I guess :).

    • Hi Emilia,

      thanks for the comment & compliment though I think I need to tidy the next video up a little bit if I’m going to do that again!!

      Yup – for me folders are good to keep everything organised, keep our inbox tidy and used for the purpose it was intended and to deal with things we don’t have to address immediately when WE want to. So folders are good but NOT as a replacement for our Inbox (sorry Everton) – i.e. so we don’t miss anything.

  3. Hi,
    Mac mail and out look I find it best to use rules to do initial sorting. Things left in the inbox have not been filtered and should viewed as you say but new rules are defined. The rules should sort them to relevant folders example theboss, news, forum groups, misc etc.

      • The main point to file as many emails as possible.
        For example I have a lot ‘monitoring’ emails these would clutter up the inbox, these are automatically moved to a monitoring folder unopened. Failed monitoring stay in the inbox.
        We have something like ‘bug tracker’ it also sends emails about progress on issues, these are put into there own folder unopened. So the goal is that the inbox will contain failed monitoring and unusual mail. The folder are then reviewed in order of priority if at all, e.g. monitoring successful do not need to be reviewed. The email for the boss need to be looked at the ‘bug tracker’ progress on issues needs to be reviewed. Both outlook and apple mail have folders which you can use to file mail unopened.

        So people to take to the extreme and really design the folders.
        But then they have the problem which folders to priorities and we are back to the original problem. So probably best to limit as much as possible the number of folders, so for example all the blog type email file in a single folder.

        • Hmmm – I think I might have said something about this either in the original article or in a discussion in the comments – basically I’m all for automation but not when it replaces necessary human involvement. Some mails are perfect for automating e.g. Monitoring or ‘for information’ emails, but if you auto- file those that need to be looked at, then all you’re really doing is creating multiple inboxes, especially if you haven’t looked at them at all.

          My recommendation is to be able to look at mails just long enough (which should be seconds) to decide what to do with them (deal with them now, later or never) – except those which are genuinely safe tonauto-file like the reference mails (you know where they are if you need to check them).

          How often do you check your ‘TheBoss’ folder?

          • Hi,

            The boss folder is the priority one.
            The goal is to pre-organize using automation. Then can attack unread mail according to folder. I think folders are a good thing. If we read then file using manual process then either we do not file or we just file under a folder called read.

            • boo! I was hoping you’d say something like ‘once a month’ 😉

              not sure I’m convinced that you’re not overdoing it with the automation there – it just sounds like you have taken away the possibility to quickly scan mails and have multiple places you now need to check. How many different rules & folders do you have? My inbox currently has 4 emails in it.

  4. Thank you for pointing this one out Alan. I installed the plugin as I was receiving so much spam (over 2k comments in 4 days). Clearly the plugin didn’t work! I may give the one you are using a go.

    Anyway, I’ve removed it now so hopefully you can post your comment.

    – Razwana

  5. Thanks Alan! I’ve actually been hit by a lot of spam (over 2k comments in 4 days) so I installed a plugin which confirms if they comment is from a person or automated system. Clearly it’s not working!

    Hopefully you can submit the comment now and thank you for pointing it out.

    – Razwana

  6. Brave, brave man – committing to video! Hates off to you Alan for giving this a bash. I think you are needlessly berating yourself there – the content of the video’s is great – which is what I suspect most viewers would want.

    Emails – I managed to get the ‘ol Inbox down to zero last week. Didn’t last long! Your strategy is great though – simply going through each and making a decision on what to do with it is the best way to start – and it’s the starting that is the most difficult, right?

    I think some of this also comes down to educating those around you on when they should and shouldn’t send emails to you. Working in the corporate world, HOW many people have email conversations and cc in the world? It drives me nuts! Interesting that most people hate the amount of email they receive, and yet send so many. I am definitely guilty of sending far too many and it’s my mission to reduce this – only send the important stuff and talk on the phone for everything else.

    Anyways, enough about my tactics. Keep up the video-ing, Alan. good job!

    – Razwana

    • Thanks Razwana,

      I REALLY appreciate the feedback and you making me feel better about the vid. I’m not too worried about it though, I know I can get better.

      You’re right with what you say and this very nearly became a ‘rant’ post (which I’ve heard are quite liked btw) but I decided against that – e.g. one thing that actually annoys me is when you ask people how they’re doing and they respond by telling you how many emails they have in their inbox (to tell you how very busy are or as if that makes them important). Have you ever had someone respond like that? It may have been more to do with the kind of corporate environment I was in. To me when people responded like that it just told me they were disorganised, not important.

      I was actually going to include your point about educating others around you more (I think I alluded to that somewhere in the original article) but I was trying to keep the article brief. You are so right on this point. In fact when it comes down to it, it’s all about communication, which is all email is at the emnd of the day. If you coommunicate effectively in general (e.g. as I cover in this article: ) then you’re in for a much smoother ride with your emails and any other communication mechanism too (reports, presentations, tweets…).

      anyways, enough for now – thanks for stopping by Razwana & best wishes.

    • Hi Razwana,

      I just tried to leave a comment on your last post but it didn’t let me!!

      It gave me the message “You must answer The question to post a comment. Please go back and try again”.

      But I answered it!! I even made a joke about your anti-spam quiz being too tough for me (the question was what is 1+1 … and yes, I’m sure I got it right).

      Here is what I tried to write but I’ll be happy to revisit and post that again if we can work out what happened:

      “oooh that anti-spam quiz is a tough one, you nearly had me stumped there for a moment.

      Nice article. Another quote I find myself regurgitating a lot lately (probably just because I’ve been writing and advising on a lot of mindset stuff lately is the Chinese proverb “If your problem has a solution then … why worry about it? If your problem doesn’t have a solution then… why worry about it?” which is basically another way of saying live in the moment and don’t worry about things that may not happen or that you can’t influence. You might also like my post on Cicero’s 6 mistakes.

      I love the actionable advice in this article. Basically ‘What if…?’ can be pretty destructive (just like the quotes tell us) but the best way to stop those fears taking over as you point out is to often go through them and ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen? Not worrying about possible consequences is often easier said than done but what we can do is work through it and do something about it which is great advice!

      so are you looking for a new job?”

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