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Prior to discovering my business coach, James Schramko, I never had much of a structure for managing my email. It could be because I never found it much of a challenge to sort through my emails. Even if they started accumulating, within a day or two, I’d find the time to get through them, and then I’d be back on track.

But these days, opportunities come at me at a furious rate, and in unprecedented volumes. And most weeks, I’m not fully caught up with my email.

Schramko explains that the first thing entrepreneurs should do if they want to set themselves up for success, is to get to inbox zero. I don’t know about you, but that intrigued me, the idea that you should clean up your inbox before worrying about anything else.

There are many reasons for this. One is that we can easily get caught up in consumption. If one person is sending emails, and the other is reading emails, who is the one making an income? The one sending the emails, right?

So often, we feel the need to spy on what others are up to and to gather ideas for our own content. And, while I can’t deny the importance of modeling in coming up with effective content ideas, it often holds true that others are selling while you’re busy reading. And that means you’re not making forward progress.

Another reason to clean up your inbox is so that you can focus on areas of your career or business that matter most. Unless you’re in a situation where you get paid to respond to emails, it’s almost assuredly not the highest use of your time, even if it is important. At minimum, I would encourage to set expectations that you’ll only be answering when it’s convenient for you, not as emails drop in your inbox.

Set expectations that you’ll only be answering when it’s convenient for you, not as emails drop in your inbox. Click To Tweet

Until you’ve made some rules for yourself, though, getting to inbox zero is going to prove an uphill battle.

Here are some rules that have worked for me:

  • Unsubscribe mercilessly. You’re subscribed to too many newsletters. We all are. Cut down on consumption by unsubscribing from more lists. Most inbox solutions let you search for the keyword “unsubscribe,” so you can easily find all the lists you need to get off and do something about it now. There are also apps like Unroll.Me that can help you clean up fast.
  • Delete last year’s emails. You’ve heard me talk about getting complete with things. Well, if you want to start causing more completion, this is one way to do it. Each year, delete all of last year’s emails, regardless of whether you’ve opened them. Trust me – if you haven’t gotten to them already, you probably never will, and the senders have forgotten about you by now. If you’re worried, quickly go through your emails to see if there’s anything important there. Then delete.
  • Delete or archive. Don’t leave emails in your inbox. Go through every email with the intention of either deleting or archiving it (after replying, of course). Don’t leave the door open to any other action. Every email can be deleted or archived (most inbox solutions should have an “archive” function).

Make rules for your emails. It will boost your overall effectiveness.

For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.

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