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6 Hacks to Make You a Hero at Inbox Zero

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Wouldn’t it be nice to power through your inbox every day? Considering that the average professional receives more than 100 emails a day, chance would be a fine thing.

Endless messages from bloggers and PR execs about media opportunities and business enquiries, file attachments, invitations, sales messages, newsletters and spam fill inboxes daily. In fact, your inbox is probably getting cluttered with messages right this very second. This often means you spend much more time sifting through messages rather than actually getting any quality blogging done. Just when you thought you’d answered everything, another email pops up.

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If you wake up to hundreds of emails every day, the concept of Inbox Zero might sound like a myth, but it is in fact a very real concept, and with a number of hacks and apps to help you get there, you can not only accomplish inbox zero but you can stay there too. To find out more about Inbox Zero, check out this guide.

Inbox Zero was first introduced in 2007 by productivity expert Merlin Mann, founder of the blog 43 Folders. It’s a methodical approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty (or at least ‘almost’ empty) at all times. The zero is not a reference to the number of messages in an inbox, but as Mann suggests: “It’s how much of your own brain is in your inbox.” The idea is to reduce the number of times per day you check for emails and once in there, open each message as few times as possible so you can focus your attention on what really matters. 

Ultimately Inbox Zero is about changing your habits, but until those habits kick in, there are lots of hacks you can do to help you manage your inbox efficiently and effectively. As everyone’s lives, needs and habits are different, there’s no one-size fits all solution to inbox organisation but these hacks will get you well on your way.

1. Learn keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are one of the easiest ways to do things faster. Although they might take a bit of time getting used to, it will take seconds or even minutes off everything you do in your inbox. Once you’ve learnt a lot of them, you’ll definitely notice a boost to productivity because you’re not unnecessarily reaching for the mouse. Start by thinking about the 5 actions you use the most and learn the shortcuts for these actions. Here is a full list of shortcuts for some of the top email providers:

2. Archive messages

Do you worry about archiving messages? When you archive messages you’re finished with, what you’re left with is an inbox that consists only of actionable items. Remember by archiving you are still able to search for your messages based on a large number of criteria. Archiving means no more continually re-scanning hundreds of emails that are no longer important in search of the one you need to reply to and no more losing important emails in your inbox. Make your inbox the list for all your emails requiring action, and nothing else.

3. Introduce an email prioritisation system

Email prioritisation systems are great for productivity, as they sift through all of your unimportant emails so they never show in your inbox. You can then glance through those emails at the end of the day, or when you have some spare time. If email prioritisation is at the top of your list, then check out these apps:

4. Use advanced Gmail searches

If you are one of the 425 million people that use Gmail, you can learn to search your inbox just like you would if you searched the internet with Google. Gmail has such advanced search operators, that you can use it to find virtually anything, from emails with attachments to emails that began before or after a certain date.

5. Set follow up reminders

If you are waiting to hear back from someone, set up a system to remind you. This will ultimately help you form stronger relationships. Many Inbox Zero apps and plugins have features to allow you to add a specific date or time when sending an email so you can be notified if the recipient hasn’t got back to you within a set number of days. All of this helps you clear out your inbox, shorten your to-do list and never forget to follow up! These apps are great for achieving this:

6. Filter emails that aren’t urgent

If you receive an email that isn’t actionable at that time, get it out of your inbox and come back to it when it is important. Check out the Mailbox iPhone app which is built around this function. It lets you put off messages until later and automatically returns them to your inbox so you can focus on what is important now. 

UK based SEO Consultant and co-founder of Hidden Pixel with a passion for everything related to online marketing. Works with clients of all shapes and sizes, along with offering PPC consultancy services. Find him on Twitter - @mattbeswick

Blogging

Writing: Your Best Blogging Friend

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Writing helps you succeed with blogging. Because writing gives you credibility. Credible bloggers land clients, sell eBooks, place sponsored posts and drive steady traffic, too. Write your rear end off. Write 500-1000 words daily. Write to be confident. Write to be clear. Write to gain credibility in your blogging niche. Of course, most bloggers struggle because few bloggers practice writing offline, daily. Bloggers only write when they publish a blog post or guest post. BIG mistake. Most bloggers publish posts infrequently, meaning you get in little writing practice. Not good.

Why do you believe you can just show up, write and publish a post and become successful quickly? If blogger were this easy, guys like me could have gone pro within weeks of buying my domain and hosting. Alas, it took me thousands of hours and years to go full time because I had to practice writing, creating and connecting to be REALLY good at blogging. Skills, exposure and credibility flow to bloggers who tirelessly practice all aspects of blogging. Everybody else fails and quits.

All money you make through blogging flows to you because people trust you and your blog. Writing skillfully – with confidence and clarity – is the only way people trust you and your blog. The more you write, the more skilled a writer you become. The formula is genuinely simple. But quite uncomfortable to put into action, sometimes. Few bloggers want to practice writing with nobody watching. Some bloggers foolishly skip writing practice because they believe writing offline for practice wastes their time. This is like saying you waste your time practicing shooting hoops in a lonely, empty gym if you aspire to make it to the NBA. NBA stars practiced 10,000 hours or more, often times in quiet, lonely gyms, and always *in private, out of the public eye, with nobody watching*, to become skilled enough to go pro. Expect to take a similar journey in order to become a professional blogger.

Writing is your core skill. If you write well, you make money online. If you write poorly, you do not make money online.

Buy my eBook:

15 Ways to Make Money Blogging

Every way to profit – out of these 15 strategies – can work quite nicely if you practice writing offline daily. Practice to become confident. Practice to become clear on your writing. Confident, clear writers write with authority. Writing with authority inspires trust in your readers. Again; this is a simple process. But sometimes, this process feels uncomfortable. Nudge through discomfort. Write, write and write some more. People who trust you based on your writing skills tend to buy your eBooks, hire you to coach them, hire you to freelance write for them and buy sponsored posts on your blog. Be diligent in writing. The money flows to you based on how much you practice writing. Plus, practicing your writing makes you prolific. Being prolific increase your blog traffic and blogging profits, too. No downsides exist to writing offline daily. Only upsides. So….write!

Practice in private. Shine in public.

Any successful blogger you envy now practiced writing so diligently that you would never envy their writing practice. After having written millions of words both online and offline, nobody envies the work I put into going pro. But being free to circle the globe? Worth it!

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Blogging

Do You Assume too Much?

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One of the biggest problems in blogging; bloggers assume too much. Perfect example is someone emails looking for your best sponsored post price. Right away, most bloggers fear losing money to a cheapie because they ASSUMED someone looking for the best price is cheap. Based on past experience. NO! Do NOT do this. Because based on NOT assuming, but being open and in the moment, more than a handful of folks looking for the best price placed orders at my full price, when I shared it was my final price. I rarely if ever assume because assuming cuts you off from traffic and money, based on past experience and future expectations.

These days, I am more in the moment. I am open. Let’s say a blogger quotes their sponsored post price as being $100. A blogger outreach service pro asks for a lower, better price. In that moment, you can do one of two thing: make a foolish assumption that the individual cannot afford $100 or simply share how $100 is your flat, final price. Assuming they cannot afford $100 INSTANTLY robs you of $100. I mean, instantly. Labeling their email as spam or being nasty with them immediately robs you of $100, based on your ignorant assumption. Choosing not to assume anything opens you up to making a quick $100. Wealthy people with large budgets sometimes seek the best price. Rockefeller would be worth $280 billion today – by estimates – and he balanced his books to the penny. He sought the best price but had billions to invest and did invest billions to be the wealthiest person the world has ever known.

This is why I wrote Creating the Mindset of a Successful Blogger for you. How you choose to think and feel dictates how you act. How you act dictates your success. Failures cling to the past and wander into the future by assuming future scenarios based on past experience. But wise bloggers remain grounded in the present, never assuming. Of course, many cheap bloggers willing to pay only $5 for a $100 sponsored post emailed you with “the best price” reply, in the past. But never rob yourself of $100 by assuming these folks do not have $100 to invest in your guest post. I leave no stones unturned. The way I see it, spending 1 second to read a “Give me a sponsored post for $5” email here and there is worth the “OK, let’s place it for $100” email I see more often these days. Assuming cuts you off from abundance. Being open-minded tunes you in to abundance. Make more money. Be open-minded. Stop assuming.

A few moments ago, our Uber driver told us he originally hailed from Jordan. He has been in the USA for 20 years. My silly mind made a quick assumption; he must live in NYC, like many folks do who immigrated to the USA over the past few decades. He still had a heavy accent. But I refused to assume this and asked him where he lived in the USA. He said in the same New Jersey suburban development where we lived. Small world! Not assuming opens you up to fun, fascinating experiences. Stop assuming online. You’ll make more money, too, and will enjoy your blogging journey.

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Blogging Success Is YOUR Choice

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Blogging success is your choice. Blogging failure is your choice. YOU choose. Never blame anyone or anything for your blogging failure. Everything in life begins and ends with you because life follows your thoughts and feelings. People or things may *appear* to slow you down or get in your way. But all appearances are illusions. Illusions are not real, not true. You and you alone choose to succeed based on your chosen thoughts and feelings, independent of situations or circumstances around you.

For example, I had a tough time falling to sleep last night. Didn’t pass out until after 6 AM and only slept to 9:30 AM. Tossing and turning, my mind raced with fears. I feared being exhausted and getting sick. I feared work I’d be behind on, today. I also feared simply sitting with my racing thoughts and feelings, being in bed for hours, since I lay down in bed at midnight. I could choose to lay in bed to observe the fears or I could watch Netflix. I chose to observe fears. Eventually, I chose to get up and write my first blog post of the day at 5 AM. I feared waking to work due to fatigue. But nudging into the fear allowed me to create content, positioning myself to expand my success.

I also chose to wake at 9:30 AM after limited sleep to do 20 minutes of intense Kriya yoga, to meditate for 30 minutes and to spend 30 seconds in an icy cold shower. Heck yeah I feared doing each on 3 hours of sleep. But successes CHOOSE to BE the people that succeed. Life unfolds as a series of personal choices. Either you make comfortable choices based on fear, struggle, fail and quit blogging. Or you make uncomfortable, freeing and usually fun choices based on love, leading to your blogging success. You choose. No one can choose for you. No one can wade through fear for you. No blogger can glide through the discomfort for you. This is an intimately personal experience that you need to face, embrace and live, to succeed in blogging, all based on your choices.

Check out my eBook:

10 Reasons Why Fijian Fruit Bats Would Be Absurdly Successful Bloggers

I observed these cute little – actually big – guys during my 4 month trip to Savusavu, Fiji. The little dog men swooped in every night like clockwork, working the papaya trees on the front lawn on dusk. The fruit bats never missed a night; their survival depended on feasting at sundown every single evening. Develop the same attitude with your blog to guarantee success. Be like clockwork. Show up daily. Work. Shine bright in a world of blogging failures who choose to work in fits and starts before choosing to quit. Blogging feels uncomfortable but the journey gets easier success-wise by choosing to wade through scary, unpleasant periods. You have a personal choice to make: generously help people for hours daily over years to succeed online. Or choose not to, guaranteeing your failure. You choose. I believe in you. I know you can choose success. Choose not to fear burnout. Choose to be happy about your future blogging success.

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