Tell the truth -- if you add up all the messages in your inbox, including sent and deleted messages, what's the total? If you're like most people, you may have 1,000 or more. Now is the perfect time to get to "inbox zero," and it's easier than you may think.
A few months ago, I reached inbox zero. It lasted for a few weeks and then I got busy with speaking and several consulting gigs. When I began this article, my total number of emails had hit more than 5,000. If you're facing a similar challenge, here are the steps to take:
Empty mailbox image via Shutterstock.
Declare "inbox bankruptcy"
Dotloop's Chris Smith has an excellent suggestion on how to get to inbox zero fast. He recommends that you declare "inbox bankruptcy." The simple way to do this is to move your entire inbox into your email's archive system. Your inbox is now at zero, but you still have access to all those emails if you need them.
Set up archives for important messages
Obviously, incoming client messages and leads are important. Many agents use their inbox to store these messages. A quick way to move them from your inbox is to set up separate archives called "Client Leads," "Current Clients" and "Past Clients." Rather than saving messages in your inbox, move them to one of these folders. Better yet, move these emails into your transaction management system. This allows you to maintain your digital paper trail all in a single place.
Manage your subscriptions
If you're using Gmail, Yahoo or Outlook, Unroll.me is a terrific service. Unroll.me will group all your subscriptions together. Each day you receive a single "daily rollup" that contains all your subscriptions.
To illustrate this point, I like receiving coupons from my favorite stores. On the days I want to shop, I click on the "rollup" for that day and unload the latest coupons. I access the coupons on my schedule rather than have them cluttering my inbox.
Unroll.me also helps you to quickly unsubscribe from subscriptions where you did not opt in. To understand how this works, HubSpot has fantastic tools and training, but they constantly resubscribe you to their email contact list. Each time they do this, they use a different person's name. Unroll.me allows you to quickly identify each of your subscriptions and then easily opt out.
Manage the spam
The challenge that many agents face is that they have an email address tied to their own URL (e.g., Bernice@BerniceSellsProbates.com). Our Internet service provider was using a spam screening service called Postini. This worked extremely well. Google recently discontinued Postini for everyone except its Gmail customers. When our Internet service provider had to move to a new spam filter provider, my spam increased by more than 250 pieces per day.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are some workarounds. For example, I could set up a second Popbox with my current Gmail account. This means that I would be forwarding all the email from my domain to Gmail. This would allow me to obtain the benefits of the Google spam screening. As convenient as this may be, I like the idea of keeping my emails coming to my domain, not to Google.
The different way to manage spam is to use the "rules" located in your email's "preferences." Both Outlook and Mac Mail allow you to set up "rules" for what comes into your inbox.
The next step is to identify the messages that you want to delete. To do this, create a rule that deletes messages that contain words tied to pharmaceutical products, offers from princes in foreign countries, as well as specific brands.
For example, I was constantly being bombarded with unwanted promotions from a major department store. I simply set up a rule in my system that deletes any message that has this store name anywhere in the email.
Work around even the most persistent spammers
The more savvy spammers have figured out ways to avoid your rules. One of the irritating spammers is a Canadian company that promotes purchasing your meds through its online drugstore. Their emails consist of a single image with the embedded information. Nevertheless, you can still get around 95 percent of these folks. Here's how:
Most spammers will have a valid snail mail address at the bottom of their email to comply with the "Can Spam" Act. If this is the case, you can create a rule deleting any email with their specific address. To illustrate this point, if the address is "2233 24th Street Suite 101," make a rule deleting any message that contains "2233 24th Street Suite 101."
Does this work? If I check my emails on my phone or iPad, all those annoying pieces of spam still appear. The great news is that I never see them on my desktop computer since they are permanently deleted from my system.
Is it possible to get to inbox zero? As of today, my total number of emails is down by 90 percent. My New Year's resolution is to get there again -- and this time, to stay there!
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors' No. 1 best-seller, "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success." Hear Bernice's five-minute daily real estate show, just named "new and notable" by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.