It’s safe to say that my inbox has tried to take over my life, and I’m fighting back with all I have. (Know the struggle?)

I am an absolute ‘inbox 0’ type girl. When I have any number of unread emails over 0, I’m not satisfied until they’re dealt with and gone. It’s an unrelenting daily battle however, the second I manage inbox 0, give myself a little ‘you did it’ first bump, another 5 creep their way in waiting for my attention. Ughhhh!

And of course we all know too well that the second you stop being vigilant about your inbox, you blink and suddenly you’re the person with an exploding inbox of 1,342 unread emails that will never get to inbox 0 again.

I had previously put some strategies in place to help with my inbox problems, but they proved to not be enough. As the blog doubles its traffic and then doubles it again, my inbox issues are getting worse and I needed to start implementing more creative strategies to deal with it.

So here’s what I’m doing now, in addition to all these strategies I implemented a few months ago.

Missed the last posts on keeping your inbox under control?

Over here I tell you about picking an appointment scheduler, auto-labeling emails, using canned responses, and setting up automatic reminders and follow ups.

Over here I go into the specifics of how to make your site crystal clear about what you respond to, contact page hacks and sharing files via Google Drive as opposed to over email.

example automatic email

After I spent another full Saturday afternoon this past weekend again clearing my inbox of emails I couldn’t get to during the week, I knew that in order to take my life back, things had to change.

I set my Gmail vacation autoresponder to be on for the next year, and wrote out details of when to expect a response.

I already have these details on my contact page (highly suggested) but some people find my email address other ways, or they respond to my weekly newsletters, so sometimes they’ll never see the guidelines on my contact page.

I have a pretty solid feeling of guilt for just not getting back to someone at all, especially when I know they didn’t see the guidelines on my contact page.

This email solves that problem as it goes out to everyone who messages me.

Now of course, I encourage you to make your own unique version of this that sounds authentic for your business.

Here’s a script, just fill in the blanks, and you’re off to the races!


{Greeting that’s authentically you}

{Reassure the sender their email made it into your inbox.}

{Mention what you’re hard at work on, and therefore when to expect a response:}

  • List the groups of people you tend to get emails from: and when each group should expect a response in business days, or the next action step to take (eg. book a consult call, complete a form, visit a sales page, etc.)

{List out common email types you get that you’re unable to respond to. Explain that you read every email, but aren’t able to give each a thoughtful response for X reason.}

{Sign off!}

{Optional P.S.: Link to services that solve the problems people have who commonly email you. I link to the Squarespace live chat for anyone who has Squarespace questions, and to Use Sixty for anyone that would prefer tweaks be done for them by an expert.

BONUS tip: Take work email off your phone

Yep, I finally did it, I no longer have my work email on my iPhone.

I have to sit my buns down at my desk if I want to get back to people.

Now I know you might be thinking ‘how does this help you have less email, you just deal with it during work hours then, right?’

Fair point. I took email off my phone and I encourage you to do the same too because when checking emails on my phone, I wasn’t prepared to deal with them.

Basically every email that lands in my inbox has some sort of task associated with it. It’s very rare that I can just send a simple answer to an email without needing to look something up, find a link to a blog post or guide, or add a task to my project management system.

And what’s the use in reading emails, hearing about problems or tasks during your free time, and being away from your computer so you’re unable to deal with them?

The primary result from checking work email on my phone during free time is that it just ruined the free time I did have.

Before removing my work email from my phone I had the ‘I just want to check to make sure everything is okay’ mentality.

When really, I would check my email on my phone, be presented with some work problem or have a new task to add to my project management system, but what good is that if I’m out to lunch with friends on the weekend, away from my computer and unable to handle the task anyways?

The emails and tasks to be done just revolve around again and again in my head, meaning that I’m not fully ever enjoying time ‘off’.

I heard someone say that ‘common sense and common practice are often two different things.’

I know it’s common sense to only check you’re email when you’re prepared to deal with the tasks that come through the inbox, but it’s pretty difficult to do that when you see the numbers unread emails in your iPhone mail app creeping up and up.

So to stop myself from self-sabotaging my free time, I removed the app from my phone. If you’re finding yourself in a similar conundrum, I’d highly suggest it.

You’ll also love…

This email script will save you hours every week in your inbox