Gmail Email Management: Create Filters and Labels for Quick and Easy Email Organization

Gmail Email Management: Create Filters and Labels for Quick and Easy Email Organization

Sometimes it’s the simple tweaks that can make all the difference!

And your “tweaking” your email system by automating and organizing is where you can see the biggest difference in your day-to-day productivity.

It’s time to ditch the email overwhelm and get organized!

We all know that email is a huge source of overwhelm for many solopreneurs, and also one of the biggest time drains. However, email is essential to a solopreneur’s success, so you have to find a way of organizing your emails. If organized properly you’ll quickly and easily be able to:

  • Focus on the top priority emails first
  • Skim your emails and see which ones need your attention
  • Get quick and easy access

Now, I’m a huge Outlook fan and have written about how you can organize your Outlook inbox through setting up Rules and Filters. But recently, due to a LOT of business and personal travel which has taken me away from my office, I’ve had to work off my laptop, which posed the question of …

How do I access my emails?

Gmail was the obvious answer – I simply forward all of my email accounts on to my Gmail account and voila! I have access to all of my emails!


But…

All of a sudden all the wonderful rules and filters I’d created in Outlook didn’t  transfer to Gmail (obviously!), and so I ended up with this huge glob of emails in my Gmail account … and I mean there were hundreds. So, the Queen of Office Organization suddenly found herself overwhelmed by emails!

Enter…

Gmail Filters and Labels.

With a bit of research I found I could easily recreate the rules and filters I’d set up in my Outlook account to also work in my Gmail account – they’re just called Filters and Labels in Gmail. And once I knew how to do this organizing my emails became a cinch!

So, here’s how you can do this in your own Gmail account too:

1: In your Gmail account, click on Options > Mail Settings.

2: Click on the Filters link.

3: Click on Create a New Filter link.

4: At this screen you can now specify your filter criteria. It can be anything:

  • From a specific email address
  • To a specific email address
  • With certain words in the subject line
  • Specify certain words etc.

5: Once you’ve specified your criteria click on Next Step.

6: On your next screen you then say what you want to happen with your email:

  • Skip the Inbox – this is an essential part of the filtering process. If you want to actually Move your email as it arrives so it ends up in an alternate folder (which is another name for a Label) then you want to make sure this box is ticked. If you don’t tick it you’ll end up with two copies of your email – one in your Inbox and the other assigned to your Label.
  • Apply the Label – this is also another essential part of the filtering process. This is where you automatically assign a Label to an email and, if you’ve selected Skip the Inbox, your email will be assigned directly to this Label. From here you can also create a new Label.

There are also other options you can choose here too, but the ones I use the most are Skip the Inbox and Apply the Label.

7: You can also apply your newly created filter to other emails that meet your criteria. Simply check the box that says Also apply filter to X message below.

8: Click on Create Filter and you’re done!

You can create as many Filters and Labels as you want. Some examples of different Filters/Labels you may want to create are for:

  • Individual clients
  • Newsletters/Ezines
  • Networking Groups
  • Social media notifications
  • New subscriber notifications
  • New order notifications

This is just one of the many systems that are simple to create and yet make a HUGE difference in the overall success of your business. Once you’ve taken control of your emails you’ll become much more productive and efficient.

Where are you struggling to manage your inbox? Post in the comments below; I’d love to help.

© 2017 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

3 Tips for Successfully Managing Your Day-to-Day Workload

Time management is the bane of every solopreneur’s life!

There is so much to do in your business on a day-to-day basis that it’s very easy for time to run away with you. Before you know it an hour has disappeared and you’re not much further forward.

Let me share with you today a tool that I use regularly to help me manage my day-to-day workload.  It’s a simple tool … and everyone has it — including you!

And my tool is … SPREADSHEETS!

They have so many more uses than just calculating figures. They are also a great tool to help you manage your time effectively.

As a busy soloprofessional you are not only working for your clients, but you have to work ON your business too. Effective time management is crucial for developing and growing your business, as well as income generating activities.

Below are my top 3 tips for effective time management using spreadsheets.

1. Create a Work Schedule

When I started to get busier I realized I needed a system that would allow me to anticipate or schedule in client’s work. I designed a really simple spreadsheet with the weeks along the top and the client’s down the side. I encourage my clients to book work with me in advance so that I can put this in my schedule. For regular clients I can book in so many hours for them each week, and because my spreadsheet totals the number of hours booked each week I can see what my commitments are and what I have left.

I find that it’s really working, not only because my clients can get ‘booked in’, but when I get an enquiry for new work I can look at my schedule to see if I can meet their deadline.

This system works well for me!

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If you find yourself having time management issues with your clients, then give my system a go!

2. To Do List

How do you manage your day-to-day tasks? Do you have a notebook for your To Do lists and cross out each one as you go along? Or do you have little yellow post-its stuck all over the place? Is this really the best way of managing your daily tasks?

Spreadsheets are a great way for you to organise your To Do list. Set up headings in the first row and add your tasks below. You can then sort your list by any column that you choose, making it an interactive To Do list. And best of all, your list is contained in one place.

Create a shortcut to your To Do list and place it on your desktop so that you can access it easily, or just keep it open and minimise your screen each time you’re not using it.

Make your To Do list even more interactive by filtering out those tasks that have already been completed. How? Use the AutoFilter built into Excel!

3. Plan Projects and Activities

How do you keep a track of what needs to be done and when?

The answer’s simple — set up a spreadsheet!

Spreadsheets also accept date formats and this makes them a great tool for tracking projects or planning activities. You can easily use AutoFill to create a date timeline too. Use the column headings for your dates, and the rows for your activities.

Use the cell where the date meets the activity to enter notes, To Do, or anything else relating to your project or activity. Once an activity is complete you can use the strikeout feature to cross it off!

As you work along the timeline, you can hide the columns with past dates, showing only those columns for current and future dates. And if you want to be really creative, use different colours for the cells to represent different activities, i.e. blue cells = to be done; red cells = overdue etc.

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Follow these 3 time management tips, and you will soon be using more time more wisely!

Where are you struggling to stay on top of your day-to-day workload? Let me know in the comments below. I answer all questions, and I love to help!

(c) 2016 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

10 Tips to Beat the Overwhelm and Stay Focused

Staying focused and on track is one of the hardest things for a business owner to do.

After all…

  • there are the emails to check
  • the client calls to take
  • the follow-up to do
  • the product to launch
  • the program to create
  • the social media to update

Phew! The list goes on and on …

And it’s a constant hamster-wheel of busyness and things to do.

And guess what?

You have to do it all again tomorrow!

Not exactly the entrepreneur life you envisioned for yourself, is it?

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In fact, many business owners share with me that one of their biggest problems is information overwhelm which in turn leads to lack of focus. Which results in stuff not getting done in their business.

They’re so busy trying to keep up with all the information that they’re being hit with that they don’t actually get around to any implementation and so they stay stuck.

With all the information that’s thrown at us via our inbox, social networks, and even through the mail, it’s so easy to become side-tracked and lose that focus and, like many business owners, I’m guessing you only have a certain number of hours in the day to work on your business.

If you’re going to grow your business and implement new programs and products, and continue to serve your clients, then you really need to stay focused and make the best possible use of your time.

Today I’d like to share with you my top 10 tips for beating the overwhelm and staying focused:

1. Only check email at certain times. You’re not going to do yourself any favors by checking your email every 30 seconds. Once first thing in the morning and again in the afternoon is enough.

2. Schedule in business development appointments. You need to work ON your business, right? So schedule that time into your calendar. This will get you really focused on creating that new program or product that’s been sat on your To Do list for the past six months.

3. Unsubscribe from ezines and publications that no longer serve you – and, yes, I realize I may be shooting myself in the foot when I say this to you. But having fewer emails landing in your inbox will really make a difference to your inbox overwhelm and will allow you to focus only on those mentors/teachers that serve you best.

4. Likewise, unsubscribe from online groups such as Yahoo & Google groups, or Facebook groups and other social media groups, that no longer serve you. If you’re not actively participating anyway, why clutter your inbox and/or feeds with notifications that no longer interest you. And you might find yourself tempted to check them to see what’s going on!

5. Create a 90-day marketing and action plan (MAP) for your business. This is one of my favorite things to do.  90 plans are perfect – they are far enough ahead that you get to see the next two or three steps, but not so far ahead as to leave you feeling overwhelmed with everything you have to do. And they help keep you focused and on track.

6. Don’t take unscheduled phone calls – let it go to voicemail. Unscheduled phone calls are an interruption – they take you off task and you will need to spend time refocusing again once you hang up.

7. Allocate specific blocks of time for client calls. Rather than having your client calls/appointments all haphazard in your calendar, create blocks of time when you’ll be available to speak or meet directly with clients.

8. Focus on only participating in one program/teacher/mentor at a time – immerse yourself in the learning and implement before you move on to the next program.

9. Only work on those activities that contribute to the big picture for your business i.e. those activities that will create new revenue streams and increase your bottom line. Either outsource or ditch the rest.

10. Focus on YOUR big picture – remember why you started your business in the first place. With the constant bombardment of “I’ll show you how easy it is to create a six or seven-figure business” emails it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel like you’re a failure if you’re not at that level. There’s nothing wrong in striving for this goal, but whilst you may not be at that level yet (or perhaps don’t even want to be) that in itself can be a source of overwhelm. Don’t follow the shoulds. Be yourself; remember why you got into this in the first place; and enjoy what you’re doing.

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Learning how to manage your time and stay focused is one of the crucial components you have to learn to master if you want to create a sustainable, long-term business.

Where are you struggling to stay focused and on track in your business? Share with me in the comments below; I’d love to help.

2016 (c) Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

Automate Your Business! Top 5 Automation Tools

Automating your business sounds really exciting, doesn’t it?

But for many business owners this is nothing more than a pipe dream.  They really don’t know what to do or where to start to create the automation that sounds so wonderful.

Part of running an efficient and organized business is making full use of the technology and resources available to you. It’s great to set up systems and processes and have them work for you, but in order to fully automate your business you also need to know which technologies are going to work best to support you in that.

Over the years I have worked with many different automation tools (either in my own business or for my clients) that have helped to support an online solo business owner.

Put simply, automation tools allow systems and processes to run smoothly and will ensure that:

  • important steps are not missed;
  • save time; and
  • increase a business’and/or team members’ productivity.

Which, in turn, generates more revenues!

So today I’d like to share my top five favorite business automation tools with you. All of these tools I use in my own business today – and they’re a huge timesaver as well as creating a more streamlined and automated business for me.

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1. 1ShoppingCart — this is my shopping cart, autoresponder, broadcast, and database management systems all rolled into ONE system. I especially like this service because everything is done in one place which really does make for a more streamlined business. It is possible to use one service for your shopping cart activities (i.e. product sales) and another service for your autoresponder/broadcast (i.e. sending out your newsletter) but the danger with this is that you are running two different databases and at some point it will become cumbersome and may even start to become unmanageable. An example I see a lot is using Aweber for list management, and then using Paypal to accept payments.

2. TimeTrade — this is probably my favorite find and is such a huge timesaver for me; I’m so grateful to one of my clients for putting me onto this service. It’s a system whereby you can get your clients to self-schedule their appointments with you, avoiding the back and forth of emails that happens when you’re trying to arrangement appointments and, of course, the time spent doing this.  You simply give your clients/colleagues the special link that’s generated by TimeTrade and they are able to see your availability (which you have pre-determined) and therefore schedule accordingly with you. It works with both Outlook and Google calendars.

3. TeamWork — I love this project management platform.  It’s easy to use, intuitive, and very cost effective.  There are two ways in which I use TeamWork:

i) I’m part of a virtual team for a seven-figure business and marketing coach, so we use TeamWork to stay on track with all of our projects, communicate with one another, and plan out our launches and marketing campaigns.

ii) I also use TeamWork with my private clients and set up “client-only areas” for them.  This means we can share important planning files with one another, stay on track with our projects, and see at-a-glance how they are progressing in their program.

4. “Sharing” WordPress Posts — if you have a WordPress blog and post regularly, there is an option called “Sharing”. If you add your social medial profiles to this, any time you post a new blog post, it will automatically be posted to your social networks.

5. Instant Teleseminar – I love this service for running all of my workshops (both free & paid). Not only is it a teleconference line, but I am also able to show slides and create an interactive experience. The automation piece comes because, as soon as your training is over, your replay page is produced automatically! You don’t have to mess about downloading the audio, uploading it to your replay page, or any other “replay page” scenarios.

Where are you struggling to automate and streamline your business? Post in the comments below, or share on my Facebook page. I’d love to help you.

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Note: In the interest of full disclosure some of these links are affiliate links which means I’ll earn a small commission should you decide to register for the service.

(c) 2016 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

How A Simple Email Signature Can Get You More Clients

An email from you could be the first contact a potential client has with you.

How well does it represent your business?

email_signature

Let me give you an example…

Recently, I received an email from a person I’ve never met before asking me if I’d like to be part of her upcoming virtual event. Although I do get emails like this, this one stood out because:

  • I had no idea who she was.
  • It was sent from her gmail address.
  • There was only her name on the bottom of the email.
  • No business contact information, link to website, or anything.

Therefore, it made it difficult for me to find out more about this person and even if I wanted to be a part of her event.

So let me ask you again … how well does your email signature represent you and your business?

It’s so important that you have an email signature on ALL of the emails that you send out because:

  • Your clients and potential clients know exactly how to get in touch with you.
  • It’s a good marketing tool.
  • You can use it to promote special offers.
  • It can drive traffic to your website.
  • It tells people who you are and what you do.

And whenever you send out emails they should ALWAYS come from your business email account; not a gmail, hotmail, yahoo, or other account … but your business account.

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Setting up an email signature is very simple to do, and I will tell you how!

As a general rule of thumb your email signature shouldn’t be more than about six or seven lines long otherwise it just becomes too big and may detract from your email.  After all you don’t want your email signature to be longer than your email!

Your basic email signature should contain:

  • Your name
  • Your company’s name
  • Your telephone, fax number, and email address
  • Your Website URL with an active hyperlink
  • And maybe a line promoting one of your services, a special offer, a link to your newsletter, or anything else that you would want to let your target audience know about.

Set up your email signature so that it AUTOMATICALLY goes out on every single email that you send, whether it’s a new email or you’re replying or forwarding on an email.

Here’s how to set up your email signature …

Outlook

1. Go to Tools > Options > Mail Format > Signature Picker.

2. Click on New and then enter a name for your signature i.e. Business

3. Client on Next and then design your signature in the blank box. You can change the font, font size, and text color

4. Once done click on Finish and preview your signature in the preview window. If necessary, go back and edit it.

5. Once you’re happy with your new signature click on OK.

6. Ensue that the Use this signature by default box has the name of your new signature in it, and click on OK.

7. Congratulations – You’re done!

Outlook Express

1. Go To Tools > Options > Signatures Tab.

2. Tick Add signatures to all outgoing messages.

3. Deselect Don’t add signatures to all ‘Replies and Forwards’.

4. Add your signature in the Edit Signature text box

5. Once you’re happy with your new signature click on OK.

6. Congratulations – You’re done!

Gmail

1. Go To Mail Settings (looks like a cog wheel in the top right corner of your Gmail account).

2. Click on Labs.

3. Search for Signature Tweaks (this places your signature before the quoted text in a reply, and removes the “–” line that appears before signatures).

4. Click on Enable, and then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

5. Now go to your General Tab and scroll down until you find Signatures.

6. Select the email address that you want to create a signature for.

7. Create your email signature.

8. Scroll down to the bottom and click on Save Changes.

9. Congratulations – You’re done!

And if you don’t use any of these email clients there are online tools that will do the job for you.

Thanks to a subscriber who shared a resource with me, I am now using WiseStamp to create my email signatures. It works with major email clients too.

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Let me know in the comments below what you’re using to create your email signatures. I love to hear about new tools and resources.

(c) 2015 Tracey Lawton Training & Consulting LLC

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.

 

5 Strategies to Become Highly Successful and Get More Done

Business owner’s To Do lists are endless …

I mean there is so much to do all the time that it feels like a never-ending cycle of To Do lists! And they can spend all day being “busy” but at the end of the day never feel like they’ve accomplished anything…

productivity get more done

… they still don’t have a full practice of ideal clients.
… their marketing systems are hit-or-miss.
… they do not have consistent cash flow.

But how can this be? 

They’ve been busy all day long!

The thing is they’ve been busy doing all the WRONG things … focusing on those things that are easy but do not relate directly to their bottom line. For example…

  • Updating their website before making sales calls.
  • Checking Facebook to see what everyone else is doing, before writing their newsletter.
  • Checking emails instead of reaching out to potential joint venture partners or organizations to secure speaking gigs.

And let’s face it, making an update to your website is a LOT easier than having to make a sales call … but it’s the sales call that is going to directly affect your bottom line, not updating your website.

So here are my top five strategies that will help you become more successful and get more done:

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1. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yes, being a business owner is hard. And it requires us to step outside of our comfort zone. And making sales calls and putting yourself out there doesn’t come easy to many people … but you have to get used to it if you want to create a thriving and profitable business. So get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

2. Prioritize your To Do list. To Do lists are great – they help you stay focused. But only if you’re focusing on the RIGHT things. So go through that big list that you’ve got and ask yourself, “If I do this, how will it directly relate to my bottom line?” If it doesn’t, then move it to the bottom of the list, or cross it off altogether. You only want to focus on those things that are going to relate directly to your bottom line … anything else you either delegate, cross it off, or do it when you’ve got nothing better to do.

3. Get an Accountability Partner. If you can’t stay focused by yourself, team up with an accountability partner. Being held accountable does wonders for your productivity level. I go to a personal trainer twice a week because I want the accountability of working with her … if I’m left to my own devices I’m likely to give up after 15 minutes as I’m exhausted. An accountability partner will push you and make you keep going, even when the going gets tough. And reciprocate too!

4. Don’t be a slave to your emails or your phone. Plan to check your emails twice a day (morning and afternoon) and let unscheduled calls go to voicemail. Email and the phone are two of the biggest distractions for solo service professionals, so have a strategy for managing these distractions.

5. Plan your calendar. Block out specific times in your calendar for certain activities. For example, instead of having your client calls scheduled all over the place, set aside two or three batches of two hours each week for clients calls. Make Friday your Friday Follow-up day … the day when you go through your contact management database and follow-up with people. Monday can be set aside as your marketing day – Monday marketing. When you manage your calendar in this way you will find your time management issues disappear.

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Follow these five simple strategies to become more successful and get more done … and watch your business grow!

(c) 2015 Tracey Lawton

Tracey LawtonAbout the author: Online Business Development Strategist, Tracey Lawton, teaches life coaches, business coaches, and virtual assistants how to become more organized, streamlined, and automated so that they don’t constantly bottleneck projects and processes. Having the right systems in place leads to consistent revenues, more clients, and less stress and overwhelm. Get your free Systems Checklist TODAY and see if you have all of your bases covered.