31 Ways to Manage Your Inbox for Maximum Efficiency

31 Ways to Organize Your Inbox for Maximum Efficiency

Checking your email regularly during the day can be an effective way to keep your inbox at manageable levels. But, the constant interruption and distraction that comes from multitasking in this way can decrease your productivity, and disrupt your ability to enter a state of flow when working. You may have to deal with unwanted emails, overflowing inboxes, and overlooked crucial messages.  Here are a number of ways to consider:

Ways To Keep Your Inbox from Overflowing

  1. Prevent yourself from subscribing to various newsletters that simply end up wasting your time. Once you get too many of them, you’ll end up using too many hours just to keep up with the deluge. If you want, you can just use unroll.me to unsubscribe en masse so you get a clean slate.
  2. Boxbe is another good tool to use to prevent unwanted emails from reaching you. It screens the messages in your customized “waiting list”, while you only get the emails from the people on your “guest list”.
  3. Resist the urge to respond to emails right away. Many of these emails may seem urgent, but they actually end up resolving themselves. You also help train other people to rely on themselves.
  4. Sometimes people can bug you by sending follow-up emails if you don’t respond right away. It may help if you use an auto-responder with an automatic reply that you’ll get back to the sender as soon as you can.
  5. You can also prevent unnecessary back and forth email messages and longwinded goodbyes by making it clear the conversation is over. Stick to sending instructions (“let’s meet tomorrow at my office”) rather than vague questions (“should we meet sometime?”).

Ways To Spend Less Time on Email

  1. If you’re not really required to monitor emails so you can respond right away, you should just set aside a specific time for them. You can use the first 30 minutes of the workday for emails, and then you can end up the workday by checking your email before you log off and go home.
  2. If you’re tired of sending the same messages again and again as replies, you may want to try using the Gmail Canned Responses (if you’re using Gmail). You may also just save some templates in your draft folder.
  3. You can also just keep all your messages short. Treat your emails as text messages, and stick to the important facts. Keep it in just 5 sentences as a rule.
  4. Put in 2 filters or tags in your email: “needs focus” and “quick answers”. So when you have a solid block of time to spare, you can then give your attention to the emails with the “needs focus” tag. For the times when you’re just in the bathroom or lining up to get coffee, you can spare a few minutes for a few “quick answers” emails.
  5. If you tend to check your email on the phone, use auto text. It’s a tool that lets you use personalized abbreviations that can expand to a complete word or phrase.
  6. Set up your email account properly, so when you read or delete an email message, you get the next unread email in your inbox instead of the overall list of emails. This should save you a lot of time in the long run.
  7. You can also try the Email Game. It’s a game that rewards you with points depending on how many emails you go through in 5 minutes. This trains you to go faster with your email, and you’re also trained to deal with manageable batches of 10 or so emails for a short amount of time.

Ways To Organize Your Inbox

  1. Don’t let ‘read’ emails stay in your inbox. Archive, file, or delete them instead. It’s neater this way, and it reduces the visual clutter.
  2. Don’t use your email as your automatic “to do” list generator. These emails just provide a distraction, and you end up thinking about the things to do rather than your current work tasks.
  3. Some email systems (like Gmail) can archive some specified emails so they don’t have to go through your inbox at all. These can include emails on cable bills if you’re already set up for auto-pay.
  4. Be helpful to your friends by making sure your email messages are easily found through search. Use the right keywords.
  5. If you’re looking for an email message yourself, it’s actually easy once you familiarize yourself with the right tools. You can take a few minutes to learn how to search by sender, topic, or included word.

Ways To Make Your Inbox Better

  1. For Gmail users, it’s imperative to check out the Gmail Labs section in the settings. It’s full of nifty features that can help make Gmail more convenient.
  2. If you use Gmail and like using sticky notes, then you can try Notes for Gmail. This lets you add notes and tags to various email messages.
  3. For those hell-bent on networking, there’s also the Sales Navigator (previously Rapportive) add-on for Gmail. This is a plugin that shows a sender’s social networking info inside your inbox, so you can connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn without leaving your inbox. You can also see the most recent emails they’ve sent you, and you can attach notes to their email addresses.
  4. If you’re a Gmail fan but you want more, try Gmelius which contains tools for sales, collaborative teams, and security that even law firms and financial services will appreciate.
  5. What if you have an email that you can only deal with later, but you’re afraid you’re going to forget about it? You can try Boomerang, which is a plugin that will “disappear” the email and show it later so it doesn’t clutter up your inbox.
  6. Use Hellosign for Gmail if you send lots of signed documents and contracts. You can sign your documents and fill out the forms without leaving your inbox.

Ways To Get Your Emails Read

  1. Make the first 50 characters of your message count. Be concise and enticing, so that the reader will continue reading.
  2. Check that your text blocks are readable. Use short paragraphs and bullets.
  3. Highlight the meat of the message by using bold fonts for them. Put them in bullet form as well.
  4. Be specific when you ask questions so the recipient always knows what you’re talking about.
  5. If you’re not sure when to send your emails so they’ll be read, don’t send them on a Tuesday or Thursday. Studies show that people receive the most emails on these days.
  6. See to it that your subject line is clear about what the email is all about.
  7. Effective subject lines are designed to make the recipients either curious about what you have to say or eager about how helpful your message can be.
  8. If you want to know if your email messages are read or not, you can try the Mailtrack Chrome program that tells you when your emails are opened in real time.

Yes, it’s a long list, but go through them anyway. You’ll find that they can make your email experience short, efficient, and much more enjoyable!

Here are other ways to be productive.

LA Startups Crew
Los Angeles Startups
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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LA Startups Crew
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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Startup Should Create a Culture of Collaboration, Not Silo

Startup Should Create a Culture of Collaboration, Not Silo

A company needs its employees to work together.  For the organization to function well, it must have multiple people with different expertise and skills working together towards a single goal. Basically, a company needs its people to collaborate.

But moving fast, innovating, and excelling all at the same time is a hard thing to do. It’s even harder if you put people with varying beliefs, personalities and abilities together.

So the big question is, “How do we create a culture based on collaboration?”

Know the “Why”

Before anyone can collaborate, they need to know why they should do it in the first place. Some professionals may refuse to work with other people because they believe that they don’t need the help of others.

To convince these kinds of people, you need to show them that the project cannot be done by a single professional. Tell them that it will be faster and efficient if a group of people with special skills work together. Plant the seeds of cooperation early and you’ll see fantastic results.

Have a meeting and invite everyone involved in the project. Explain to them clearly why you need their services and why you need to solve this problem. If people know the “why”, then all that’s left for them is to “do”.

Use the UX Mindset

The user experience mindset or UX mindset for short is a way of thinking that puts the customer first. It reframes how you think and it will give you a new work perspective. Integrating the UX mindset into the team will instill cooperation.

People unite under the UX mindset because they have a common goal. Instead of bickering with one another, people will set aside their differences to create an amazing user experience.

Teach people to respect roles

Respect or to be more accurate, the lack of respect is one of the biggest reasons why people refuse to cooperate. Lack of respect stems from a feeling of loss, elitism, miscommunications, misunderstandings, and ignorance.

It’s hard to teach people to respect someone that they’ve just met. However “hard” does not mean that it’s impossible.

To remove lack of respect from your team, you simply need to show them respect. Respect can be gained by clearing up misunderstandings, having a positive outlook, and understanding the bigger picture.

An ignorant employee might complain that a certain job or role is useless but once you show them why the bigger picture, they will understand their foolishness and begin to show a little bit of respect.

Teach your people to accept and embrace change

The only true constant in this world is changing.  Change is something that happens all of the time but for most people change can be a bad thing.  Your people might be comfortable with the status quo and the thought of change is a scary notion for them.

However, change is needed for progress.  You simply need to convince yourself and your people that change can be good. You simply need to look at it from a different perspective. Show them that they’ll be getting more than what they’ve bargained for. All they need to do is to simply learn and embrace change.

Sure, some changes can be rough. And change may lead to tough times, but you have to take risks to move forward.

If this isn’t enough to convince them, then you can use change as a way to stimulate people. Frame the change as something that creates adventure and excitement. Frame it in a way so that they will learn to love the unknown.

Improve communication between team members

People cannot collaborate if they can’t communicate with each other. And standard communication isn’t enough, they have to communicate perfectly with one another.

Perfect communication between team members is hard and it isn’t just about telling people what to do. No, perfect communication is a much trickier task. You must teach your people to use the right words at the right time.

Improper communication can lead to arguments. The use of incorrect words might offend people and impact them on a subconscious level. Learn ways to reframe your words, because a single word can alter your intended message.

Effects of a Culture based on Collaboration

A culture that promotes teamwork and collaboration is ideal. There are tons of benefits from having your people work well together. But some of the most notable and most important effects would be…

An increase in creativity and morale

This is probably one of the most obvious and most notable effects of a collaborative culture. Teams are more creative and more positive since they get along well with one another. People will also feel better if the workplace promotes teaming up and working with others.

More innovative members

A culture that promotes working together will also promote new ideas and new opportunities. Team members are more likely to participate in meetings since they feel comfortable talking and sharing their ideas.

Innovation stems from the will to change. And if people are open to change and new opportunities, then they are welcoming innovation with open arms.

Better ROI

Achieving a culture based on collaboration is hard. It might even be impossible for others, but once you reach it, it would be worth your while.

When a team is collaborative, they work faster and better with one another. People are more content with their work and they will do their best most of the time. People are also more creative, and innovation blooms freely in the work area.

In the long run, the team will be able to produce quality products and the company will make more money in the long run.

Conclusion

Mankind is capable of creating wonderful and amazing things. I mean we’ve created airplanes that can fly in the air, we’ve harnessed the power of lightning, and we’ve created cities that can accommodate millions of people.

This is all thanks to collaboration and teamwork. Creating a collaborative culture in your workplace is a big deal. Expect better products, better relationships, and overall a better team.

Creating an ideal setting where people promote the idea of teamwork and camaraderie is hard but it is well worth it. If you’re a manager and aren’t doing this to your team, then you’re missing out!

Here’s a great read – Top 4 Tips for Building a Real Networking Community

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

8 Ways Your Company Can Save Money By Hiring Remote Worker

8 Ways Your Company Can Save Money By Hiring Remote Worker

Whether you’re a veteran or simply a new business owner, one thing is certain – overhead costs are a big pain in the @&&. So it’s a good thing that modern technology has helped today’s businesses cut down on costs.

You save a lot of money by not paying for office space, construction costs, electricity bill, rental fee, food expenses, and other expenses. You can simply hire your employees and have them work at home. It’s also a big benefit to the employee since they don’t have to worry about gas expenses or commuting expenses. They also work in the comfort of their own homes and they can set their own schedules as well. It’s a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee.

But if you’re still not convinced then take a look at these reasons that explain why hiring remotely can save you a lot of money.

1 Lower Operating Costs for Your Business

You don’t have to worry about renting office space, paying electric bills, paying water bills,  buying office supplies, providing for snacks, office repairs, buying hardware, fixing to plumb, and all those other expenses since most (if not all) of your workers are now working at home.

Based on a poll from Global Workplace Analytics, it was discovered that businesses and companies who allow their employees to work at home have reduced expenses and reduced company overheads of approximately $11,000 annually.

2 Your Remote Workers are More Productive

Working at home has a lot of perks. The most obvious perk would be that of time and travel expenses. Home workers don’t need to travel to the office which saves them a lot of time, they also don’t have to experience the stress of being caught in a traffic jam during rush hour.

Asides from the traffic, home workers have fewer distractions and they can devote 100% of their time and energy on work. Home workers have flexible work schedules that they can even take care of their children, cook their own food, and watch television. This flexible work schedule makes them more productive and it helps them produce high-quality outputs.

According to Tiny Pulse, about 91% of home workers state that they get more work done when they are working remotely.

3 Employee Turnover Will Be Reduced

A lot of employees are being replaced yearly. It’s costly to train new employees and it takes a lot of time and investment to make them as effective as the old ones.  You can convince your current employees to stick around by making them work at home.

According to the Global Workplace Analytics, about two-thirds of employees would switch their current jobs if they could ease the burden of commuting and deal with traffic. By relieving your employees the burden of traffic, you are also ensuring that they would stick around and work for you.

4 You will have more productive and efficient meetings

Payroll has reported that over 40% of office professionals see impromptu meetings as a major distraction in the workplace.

You don’t have to worry about impromptu meetings that hinder you from doing your work. Most impromptu meetings have little value to add and they are often used to kill time in the workplace. It’s even more annoying when people chat and goof around while waiting for the other workers to come to the meeting. You lose at least an hour of your work time in these meetings, an hour that you could have spent working on that project.

You can have more efficient and productive meetings if you have a lot of remote workers. Why? Because meetings have to planned and scheduled in advance which gives you and your employees more time to prepare for the meeting. So no more on the spot brainstorming or fooling around, you can now have meetings that help and improve your employees work rather than hindering it.

5 Your Workers Can Work Even on Sick Days

People in the office often take the whole day off when they call in sick. This would set back your profits and you’ll be at a loss. Remote workers, on the other hand, don’t have this problem.

Your remote workers can work from bed (if possible) when they’re sick. If they can’t work when sick it’s still okay since they have flexible work schedules that make it easy for them to catch up with work.

6 It’s Faster and Easier to Hire Remote Workers

Office employees undergo a very long and tedious hiring process. They undergo interviews, handle paperwork, background checks, and they have to be sorted out by the HR department. It would take a few days at best to hire a new employee.

Hiring a remote worker, on the other hand, can simply be done within a 24 hour period. There’s no bureaucracy that will slow you down.  However this comes at the cost of security and quality, you have to do the background checks yourself and make sure that they are up to par with your company’s standards.

7 You Don’t Need to Rely on Local Talent, You Have the World to Choose From

If your company is located in a big and thriving city. It’s very likely that your employees are also living in the city as well. The cost of living is high and you have to pay them a much higher rate.

However, you can pay remote workers much less since you don’t have to adhere to industry standards. You can pay someone a lower rate but with equal talent, whose living in a rural area and they’d still be happy about it. You can even completely outsource the work and hire workers from across the world.

8 You Can Work Remotely as Well

What’s so great about having all your workers work remotely? Well, it means that you don’t have to go to the office anymore! You’re basically working remotely as well. That means that you don’t have to worry about commuting/ driving, rush hour, and other daily work expenses. You now have more time to spend with your family and you can probably work while traveling the world.

And, here are 3 ways to build trust in remote teams

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

6 Simple Steps to Making a Mobile-Focused Website

6 Simple Steps to Making a Mobile-Focused Website

You’ll need a different mindset if your website is primarily designed for mobile users.

It’s funny when you think about it, but there was a time when websites weren’t really designed for smartphone screens. They were designed for the much larger monitors of desktop PCs. Of course, when you shrink those web pages you can hardly read and see anything, which became a problem when mobile Internet surfing became more popular. So the more farsighted website owners created their websites for PCs, and then they tried to have a different version for smartphones.

Nowadays, most serious websites have both a PC and a mobile version. In fact, more websites are actually being built for mobile surfing first, before a desktop PC version is created. That’s because more people are going online using the smartphones rather than their desktop PCs.

So how do you build a website that’s more focused on serving the needs of mobile visitors? Here are a few tips that can start you on your way:

1. Strip Your Pages Down

When you’re determined to build a website that’s actually geared for smartphone users, you can’t use overly complex webpages. You have to simply your web pages instead.

There are good reasons for this. One, with a small screen to work with you don’t want to overwhelm the user with too many details. A simple layout works much better so they know what to do. Two, with too many complex elements it’ll take too long for a web page to load, and we all know how impatient mobile surfers are. If it takes more than 3 seconds to load a page, chances are good they’ll press the back button and try another website.

2. Plan for Your User’s Needs

Will they be tapping buttons on the web page? If so, you need to make those buttons visible, and they should be large enough so that they can be tapped easily enough. Will they have to input a username and password? If that’s the case, you’ll have to put in a keyboard interface as well. What if they’re looking for a particular section? You may want to feature a clear outline of your site, and a search bar can certainly help.

You have to put yourself in your website user’s shoes. Pretend you’re the user and you need to find something on your website. You’ should then realize what kind of helpful elements you need to put in.

When you’ve designed your web pages, try them out first. You have to know for sure how they would work within a mobile browser.

3. Don’t Forget about Laptops

When you’re designing with a smartphone user in mind, at least you have a touchscreen working for you so your users can simply swipe along the way to navigate your site. But that’s not exactly the case when your mobile user is actually using a laptop. In some instances, they don’t have a mouse either.

What this also means is that you have to plan for various resolutions to make sure your web pages appear at their best. Laptops are often limited to 1024 x 768 resolutions, and that’s what you need to plan for. In fact, check out the various screen sizes of the most popular laptops so you can have a different version for each resolution.

4. Going with Responsive Layouts

Some people would rather opt for a responsive layout, rather than have a different type of website for each type of Internet device. With a responsive design, your website morphs to fit whatever type of resolution your website user is using.

This can be quite convenient for you. You’ll have the same HTML markup that works on all screens. You won’t have to go with specific stylesheets for different types of devices.

Since you’re focused on mobile users first, at least with this approach you take care of the needs of those using smaller screens. Of course, there’s a good chance that you won’t get an optimal look when you’re website visitor is using a desktop browser. But those are bugs that you can fix later. These guys aren’t your top priority after all.

To help you see just how responsive websites can work for different devices, you ought to do some research on the various responsive sites that are currently in operation these days. Just Google for them and you should find them easily enough. You can then cherry-pick the features that you want to appear on your own responsive website.

5. Don’t Forget about the Navigational Requirements

If you’ve been designing websites all this time with a focus on desktop users, then you’re probably more used to people who can just use a mouse to get around a webpage. That’s not going to fly with a mobile website.

For most website designers, the simplest solution here is to just have your page sections cascade down. Your visitors can just swipe downward to see more of your content. You can also have your links appear constantly at the top or at the bottom of the screen so that they can get around your site more easily.

Just don’t go overboard and put in too many links on your navigational menu bar. Just go with the basic root items instead.

6. Set Up Your Images Properly

Dealing with image content can be problematic when you have such a small screen to work with. One solution is to have a set of images solely for small smartphone screens, while you have another set for normal displays. However, you can’t overlook the need for high-resolution images for iPhone retina displays.

Another solution is to set up all your images to contract and then expand up to the maximum point. This can work just as well for desktop users too. Even HTML5 video supports this setup, so it’s convenient.

It does require a different mindset when you’re building a website that’s more focused on mobile users. The old ways won’t work if you’re used to traditional desktop websites. Whatever you do, just don’t forget to give it a test run on your own smartphone first!

Here are 5 Steps You Can Do to Prepare Your Website for Google’s Mobile-First Index

Founder, Editor-in-Chief
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.
×
LAStartups.com, Schmoozd.com
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.