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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

Are You Trying to Rank or Help People?

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Check the intent behind your blogging actions. What are your drivers? Some bloggers desperately want to rank, to place articles on page 1 of Google, to drive sweet, passive search engine traffic. Good luck with that. Nobody succeeds ranking until you give virtually all of your attention and energy to helping people with your blogging efforts. The rank comes after the generous help and that generous help often spans years of your life because developing page 1 Google skills is no joke. If it were easy, everybody would rank on page 1, right?

But you would be surprised by how many folks struggle blogging because the focus on rank over help dominates their minds. I never fell afflicted to this common limiting belief because I give scant attention to ranking on Google. Most of me could care less. I help people through my guest posts, blog posts, course and eBooks. My intent is to help people not to try to get traffic and money through manipulating things. Be honest about the big difference between the two because making this shift will improve your life tremendously, along with positioning you to experience increasing blogging success.

Focus heavily on people and little on things to discover the secret of blogging success. Bloggers succeed by generously helping human beings for sustained periods of time. Imagine some blogger who appears to be all over their blogging niche. Study this individual. Guaranteed, this bloggers generously helped people for years, hours daily, through multiple methods of helping people. Imagine guest posting, blogging, broadcasting live on Facebook and podcasting. See how the top bloggers always seem to be assisting people from a generous, genuine energy? Be that person. The tops never obsess over ranking because doing so attaches you to outcomes. Attach to outcomes. Feel fear. Attachment is fear. Any time you blog from a vibe of fear, you will struggle, fail and quit eventually. Top bloggers feel fears but release the energies versus panicking and bailing on generously helping readers. Everybody else panics, bails and tries to manipulate things to get traffic and money, failing horribly over the long haul.

Nobody gets ahead trying to manipulate things because money flows through humans mainly, then, through things which act as receiving channels. Imagine if I sell a copy of my blogging course. Generously helping human beings instills trust in the person who bought my course. Money flows from them to me through Selz, and my bank account, from their credit card or bank account. The things – Selz, bank accounts – are receiving channels, facilitating the sending and receiving of money, but generous service and trust put the financial transaction into action.

Stop trying to rank before all else because dealing with things solely – SEO and Google – moves you out of the realm of reality, into thing-ality. Bloggers who succeed keep helping folks generously and keep promoting themselves, realizing the things are just tools humans use to connect with each other, to help each other and to prosper each other. Focus on helping humans, not trying to rank on page 1 of Google, to uncover the secret to successful blogging….and to uncover the secret of ranking on page 1 of Google.

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Why Blogging Jealousy Is a Damaging Emotion

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I spent today enjoying lunch and a hike through the forest with my wife. But like the past goodness knows how many years, I will work 6-8 hours daily….or more. I put in an hour or so this morning. Now I get to work a bit before 5 PM. People love my travel photos. Folks often tell me how jealous they feel, envying our life. We are so lucky! We are blessed. We are aligned. All that jazz. But the same folks NEVER feel jealous or envious of the fact that I worked 6 hours daily for the past goodness known how many years of my life. I tell folks about my workload sometimes; most look at me like I have 3 heads, people proclaiming themselves lazy and definitely, believing I can have this workload because working long and persistently is not for them.

Before you envy my movie-worthy life, envy my movie-worthy workload. Before you jealously bust my chops about my photos in Fiji and Bali, be just as envious and flat out jealous of the 20,000 hours I have blogged over the past decade of my life. You cannot have the sweet fruit unless you patiently water the seed and allow for it to thrive, during growing season. Likewise, you cannot have blogging success unless you patiently, persistently and generously work, to succeed.

Jealousy and Damage

Most bloggers never realize the intense jealousy that damages their blogging campaign. Why does jealousy hurt you and your blog? Delusion, that’s why. Take my Fiji or New Zealand or Costa Rica pictures. Most people who see the pictures envy my life because most folks CHOOSE to work a 9-5 job and CHOOSE not to travel. In the same breath, after expressing intense jealousy at me living a cool life of travel, I advise the person to begin blogging, to engineer a similar life for self and family. In an instant, most bloggers complain about having no time, no time, and no drive to design such a life of fun and freedom. Why? Being jealous of bloggers immediately places you in a “they have it, but I cannot have it,” type victim, non-empowered, weakling energy. If you believe only I can live this life, and envy me, and you foolishly believe you cannot life this life, you make endless excuses to cling to your belief system. Said excuses guarantee your unhappiness and comfort.

If you envy my life of travel, envy the 6 to 10 hours or more I have worked every single day of my life over the years. Do you envy working 8 hours every Saturday and Sunday? Are you SOOOO jealous that I will work 6-7 or more hours today, after being out of the house for about 6 hours, hustling into the evening? Nope. I did not think so. Few human beings envy someone who works generously, diligently and persistently because most people hate doing the very thing that sets them free. Why? Doing the thing that sets you free forces you outside of your comfort zone, to face deep, pulsating fears. Facing these fears seems highly unpleasant. Nobody enjoys facing fears, but you need to face fears in order to grow, to succeed, and to live a life of movie-worthy levels, you being the object of blogger envy.

Stop being jealous. Get to work, admire industrious bloggers who live their dreams, and you too will live your dreams.

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How to Ride out Traffic Swings

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Traffic swings occur for every single blogger who ever blogged.

Literally, nobody is immune from seeing traffic stats swing high, low, back, medium and all over, in between. How do you ride out these swings? Blog for the love of blogging and see traffic as an extra, a bonus, or some add on to your blogging campaign. Make the blogging work, the reward. See all else as extra, or a bonus, and you become totally chill in response to inevitable traffic swings. Way too many bloggers become obsessed with traffic stats. Even more make the foolish mistake of obsessing over traffic stats on a daily basis. Guys; this is nuts. How can you focus on daily traffic swings when you know all good, lasting things take time, energy and a willingness to have a vision? Relax. Slow down. Calm down. Trust in yourself. Trust in the blogging process. Good things take time and generous service.

Imagine if Jeff Bezos panicked over day to day traffic and sales numbers on founding Amazon over 2 decades ago? Imagine how doing so would have crippled his campaign? Everybody experiences swings – usually, wild swings – as a newbie entrepreneur and blogger because no growth is perfectly linear. Over time, with generous effort and a blanket trusting in the blogging process, you traffic increases month over month. But day to day analysis is a silly way to assess how you are doing. How in the heck can you honestly make a blanket assessment of your blog over a 24 hour period? It’s only 24 hours! We measure success in thousands and tens of thousands of hours…..not 24 hours. Come back down to earth. Get your head out of the clouds. Nothing of meaning, of lasting value, unfolds in 24 hours. Please be gentle with yourself and be even more gentle with your silly mind because the mind wants fast results but your heart knows; successful blogging is a long term gig.

Check Stats Infrequently

Do you have an absolute blast checking stats? If so, check stats monthly. Allow momentum to gain by generously helping people daily, over a monthly period. Observe your traffic stats to iron out any kinks and to not be swayed by the day to day fluctuations leveling most bloggers, creating a roller coaster wave of emotions in mind. I barely check metrics because if I love what I do, trust in the process and trust myself, the more generous service I put into blogging, the more blogging generously serves me. Simple equation here. Why in the heck would I assess my success based on 24 hour increments? Blogging success hinges on thousands of hours of generous service, not 24 hour blogs of work, right?

Pump your breaks guys. Get uber busy helping your readers by creating as much quality content as humanly possible. Be generous. Focus heavily on giving, not getting, to allow your daily stat checking obsession to dissolve just a wee bit. Blogging become uncomfortable here and there but does get easier and easier the more often you give freely of your time and talents. The challenge is not to panic when you resist checking stats for a few weeks as most folks go bonkers mad, ready to explode, once they try to detach from frequent stat checking.

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