How and What to Plan when Starting a New Blog

There are a number of reasons why planning comes first and in order to answer; How and What to Plan when Starting a New blog, we will need to explore a bit more about a plan.

In my article; 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January, the Planning stage headed the list.

7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January

Why do you need a Plan?

  • The plan is the basis of your start point. If you don’t have a plan, where do you start?
  • A plan provides ideas on what to research. You will need to do a lot of research to understand how you can help your audience.
  • A plan puts a framework to the deployment of facilities you may need to include on your blog.
  • A plan can identify a priority to the order in which you instigate the information finding, creation and operation of your blog.

 

Problems with Plans

Plans can be linear if you don’t make them dynamic.

The problem with a linear plan is similar to how you might progress in a linear computer game. Linear games have one direction, they move from start to finish.

The limitations of a linear game are that they have no replay value. Once you have completed that linear game it won’t appeal to return to it so soon.

Blogs don’t run in a linear fashion, audiences don’t remain in a linear fashion.

Your Modus Operandi, your calling card, cannot remain the same forever. You have to evolve. Therefore your plan needs to evolve also.

 

Re-Plan the Plan

As I know all too well from working in a planning department, you have to; “Re-plan the plan.” Creating one plan that works is rarely feasible. The more complexity you work into a plan, the more external (uncontrollable) factors play into the success of your objectives.

A plan will always be imperfect because you never have the full amount of information you need to get everything right on the first pass.

The Plan’s aim is to generate some confidence in the fact that you know what you are letting yourself in for. It helps generate some expectation of the kind of commitment you will need to channel into making your end product worthy.

 

What to Plan for a Successful Blog Start?

You will definitely need an infrastructure plan if you plan nothing else.

Here is a list of the infrastructure I employ in BlogPrefect.com:

Core Elements

Domain – This is the blogprefect.com name, it is held by a registrar and is the way that both identifies my personal contact and allows my audience to search for me on the internet.

Hosting – This service provides me the architecture to provide this website. All the files including the database, code and images are stored on a server here. I’m currently with BlueHost but there are many other web hosts out there.

CMS (content management system) – This is the management control that I have to write articles and layout content on my website. I use self-hosted WordPress but there are other options. Determine which one fits you best!

Plugins – Whilst the theme you choose can cover a lot of the functions of the blog, there are some extra functions you will need to include that aren’t provided as standard with the theme. You will need plugins for extra functions such as security, caching and communication. Plugins incorporate speed overheads and also require you to spend time administering to their updates and settings along the way. There are a number of plugins you could need and so you may need a separate infrastructure list for these.

Theme – This is the user interface that everybody sees when they visit the blog. All themes are not created equal. Some work better than others depending on what you need them to do. My theme is Clicky, available at Theme Forest (Envato), it is a premium theme as it has certain features that aren’t provided with the selection of free themes WordPress provides. You have to decide on a tradeoff with a selection of theme. You can start with a free one and nobody will think less of you but you will reach the limitation of that free theme soon. Changing themes can provide challenge because the formatting of your posts may change and not always for the better. This is why it is best to decide on a theme you are going to keep for a while.

Email Elements

These are not essential to the core of your blog but they are essential for the marketing foundation of your blog.

Email List Provider – This provides me the ability to provide content to my subscribers and helps aid in generating direct traffic. I use Mailchimp.

Email Management System – This tool allows me to send and receive emails using my domain’s address. I use Fastmail but there are other options.

 

Notes about your infrastructure list:

You don’t need everything straight away. Your traffic is naturally low in the start so you can slowly introduce elements as you go along. You should think about the core elements you need and add the less essential elements later.

 

1st Question to ask

Have you identified what problems you seek to resolve for your audience?

This is something you can plan but you will more than likely need to review after some time researching.

 

Milestones

A corner-stone of planning activity are milestones. You may have heard of this term if you’ve put together a project. All it means is that you lay down a marker, a point by which you must have achieved something.

Exceedance

Planning has exceedance, the dictionary might not like the word but it exists. This means that should you not reach a goal by a certain point you have to push it out to the right, but analyse why. Some goals cannot be pushed because you will miss the ‘window of opportunity’ which leads to;

Critical Path

The Critical Path may be a list of elements you need to complete regardless of any superfluous goals. You often have “nice to do’s” and “must do’s”, when planning you have to prioritise the “must do’s”.

 

What Can I Apply this to?

  • Blog Posts
  • Marketing
  • Emails
  • Everything

You can literally plan everything. New logo, strategy for social media, return after time away, everything!

Remember

What’s Next?

I will be looking next at stage 2 of the  7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January, which looks at Research.

 

Image Credits

All images creditable to copyright free images acquired from Pixabay.

7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January

You could potentially be reading this article at any time of the year, even January itself. You might be holding off on getting things done because you want to get the blog just right. Blogging is popular and is netting people profit, notoriety and attention.

“It is not easy” will be a phrase you read a few times in this article. If it was easy it wouldn’t be an enriching challenge. Anyone can blog but not everyone can blog well enough to get their name in lights.

Launching a new blog in January is going to be a breeze right?

The ‘Hypercompetition Sea’

My favourite developed idea for the kind of competition you are up against in the blogging world is the Hypercompetition Sea.

Competition is one thing but when there are no barriers to entry, you enter this overwhelming ocean of competition. I neatly refer to this crushing crowd of voices shouting around you as the Hypercompetition sea.

If you haven’t been living under a rock you know that in Star Wars they have a hyperdrive; it’s not just a drive, it’s so much more!

Step 1 Plan First

Plan your empire!

  • Before you decide on anything, plan first.

I could leave this tip as one sentence because it is enough but you should plan if you are going to spend hard-earned cash on the infrastructure you are going to need to become successful.

I filled two A5 journals before I launched my blog. Without that creative thought it wouldn’t have started with the warmth that it did.

I asked myself a lot of questions. Tried to answer them as best as I could. When I felt confident I moved on.

Don’t go cold into anything. Yes you’ll learnt a lot but you’ll also have far more regrets which leads neatly to:

Step 2 Research

Dip your head in the books

Research is critical. Businesses perform extensive research before launching brands to ensure that they are hitting the right future buyer for their product. These businesses may have to adjust their product to cater better to what is available in the market.

A/ Know Your Market

A market differs slightly to your target audience in that you could be offering a product or service which even an un-engaged reader would be interested in. You have to know who the big players in your chosen niche are, and by observation, determine what works and what doesn’t.

You are not looking to copy but more to find the gaps that those big players leave. There is always an angle you can fill if you look hard enough. There is always a chunk you can tear off for yourself. It just takes time.

B/ Know Your Audience

Your audience is your raving fans. You need to know how to keep them engaged and returning. Audience retention is the core activity of your blog and it is not easy. In order to get yourself ready for the challenge ahead, you must have a target audience member in mind.

My friend Ahmad Imran over at Reasontouse.com goes into detail about Audience Profiles. I think that you can learn a lot from this. Click this link to open this insightful post in a new window.

Step 3 Ask Yourself Can you Commit?

Commit or don't

Whilst I’ve made every effort to streamline and make blogging easy for myself, it takes time.

You will be spending a lot of your time:

  • Developing content
  • Developing networks
  • Developing the brand
  • Developing your sell

Determining whether you are well placed to do that will depend on:

  • Your personal level of motivation
  • How resistant you are to feeling the crushing blow of defeat
  • How open you are to advice, no matter how painful
  • Your ability to battle it out when you just don’t feel in the mood
  • Planning ahead during the good times to avoid the crash in the bad

Even if you are a woman, you’ve got to have some balls. You need to have grit. You need to dig in.

Think of blogging as a campaign. Even an email marketing platform uses the word “campaign” to refer to your endless stream of articles. The important thing to note is that each post is a battle. You will lose some, more so in the early days, but eventually you’ll start winning the war.

You might think, why this step here? You won’t know how committed you are to a subject until you’ve explored it’s potential first.

Step 4 Try Out Some Free Blogging in a Different Subject

Try it out

It is tempting to diverge. Divergence is the one way to kill your blog in the long-term.

  • Focus is important.

The word ‘niche’ is banded around. You will hear it more and more as you develop your blog. A niche is your unique position within a field of discussion. As you laser target your blog, your niche will tighten to a razor-sharp focus because you will start to understand the unique areas that you can capitalise on where other bloggers can’t.

The trouble is, there are those topics you want to write about that aren’t beneficial to your audience as a whole. They may be your own personal passions but cannot be used as a good way to relate your audience to your content aim.

Therefore I suggest you start out blogging on a free platform and get into the habit of what you have to do to make a bigger splash, draw more engagement, and layout your thoughts.

Why Free?

The free platforms start out with a pre-made audience. Audience on your fresh blog that you plan to start may not reach the numbers you hope.

In order to be encouraged in your writing endeavours, and determine whether you can stick with it; I recommend you join WordPress or Medium.

These platforms come with a large amount of readers already so you can trial your style and tweak with basic elements of your writing without making investment. It is a way to make a name for yourself and to start enticing engagement.

Note: The free platform audience is not necessarily as amenable to your work as an audience you generate through your own efforts. You will find that on free platforms a lot of the audience are other bloggers. Rivals may not necessarily be the individuals that you will want to make that final sale to. This audience might be the kind that gives you access to visibility or looks to steal good ideas.

Here Comes the Decision

You are now committed.

The engine is about to be started.

Your driving gloves are on.

Your foot is poised on the accelerator pedal.

Step 5 Your Domain Name is Critical

Critical Domain Name

Always Chose .Com!

You have to make sure that the name you are after is free to use and that you aren’t going to infringe on copyrights before you go ahead and start using it.

My friend Eli Seekins over at LaunchYourDream.Com has a great guide about picking domain names. Click this link to open a new window for a great article.

A/ Register Your Name as Soon as You Have Decided

These names can be swallowed up quickly so if you see the perfect name is available, purchase it as soon as you can.

B/ .com or Something Else?

I would always recommend .com because with .com you reach the world. I would only recommend a localised URL if you are targeting a localised demographic. Depending on how diverse your blog intends to be, having the possibility to touch your site out to the world gives you opportunities.

  • A lot of people speak English that aren’t from America/UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Africa/India
  • A lot of Ex-pats live in foreign countries

Step 6 Have Several Blog Posts Ready to Go

Ready to Rock!

Having a suite of posts ready saves you time out of the gate. If you can have at the minimum, 3 posts, this gives you the opportunity to make some key adjustments to your blog without being in a rush to produce content.

Being in a rush, especially if you are working in a full-time job, leads to bad quality and you want your first couple of posts to move people*. You need some good quality to lead you out of the gate.

*You want all your posts to move people but you have to take into account that occasionally you’ll produce sub-par content. Your first 3 posts need to have some substantial useful content. Think of it as the launching trajectory, you don’t want to fire into the ground.

Step 7 Start Making Friends

Friends make life easier

You can start making friends before you get going. If you are still working on the content you can start getting into the kinds of circles your content is likely to be reaching.

You can start to gauge what’s hot, what’s not and what’s meh.

It is possible to start your social media elements before your blog. I remember suggesting this before and one gentleman was so flabbergasted by this “outrageous” idea that they went into length about how wrong I was. The truth is you can put the cart before the horse for a little bit.

A conversation can often be just as valuable as a post.

Other Ideas to Consider

Determine Your Launch Month

January may not be your niche’s best time to start out of the gate. You can have just as good a start in June or July. I started BlogPrefect.com in mid June of 2013 and received a better start than Jackowrites.com which launched in December.

Doing your research should indicate when there are likely to be peaks in interest. Use this data to be strategic with your launch.

It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect in the Beginning

  • You are going to make derps, fails and brain farts.

Blogging is an evolutionary journey so you may eventually wipe the slate on that crappy image or rubbish sentence.

Own your mistake.

Learn from it.

Move on.

Take it All With Good Humour

You are the boss and you have enjoy what you are doing. Blogging is work, work can get dry sometimes. Try to inject fun in what you produce and put zest into your work.

At times you are going to have to be serious and lay ideas out as straight as you can. Where you are permitted to lighten the mood, go all in.

Try a Few Things That Experts Tell You Not to Do

Blogs are unique in that what works for one blog doesn’t necessarily work for another. As your audience builds, you’ll have a unique audience that likes your content a certain way. In order to determine what is working best you have to experiment.

  • It is important not to harbour pre-conceptions about what is expected of your blog.
  • You don’t know until you try.

The early days of blogging provide the best opportunity to make big experiments. As your blog starts to mature, you can upset your audience when you make big changes. Whilst you have a small audience you have few people to alienate.

Note: One proviso is that you don’t over experiment. As you can guess, it will become difficult for your audience to feel warm if the seas (your blog) are choppy. Limiting experiments to targeted areas is better.

Don’t Clone, Innovate!

It is very easy to make your blog/website like every other in the niche. You can have every decoration that your neighbour has on their tree. The problem is it won’t make you stand out as a different voice.

As a successful future blogger you need your own unique blend. Don’t keep up with the Jones’s. Push the fringes of your topic, you may then find the perfect sub-niche to dominate!

Buy Yourself a Decent Notepad or Journal

Keep a Journal so you Don't have to remember!

They say that handwriting is dead but I believe not. I swear by handwriting some notes every so often, whether it is progress, ideas, websites, words of encouragement or new experiments to try out. I even have award stickers to make the process fun. Yeah, I’m a big kid but this job is the one you can enjoy!

As you write, you realise where you were and where you’ve come to. Some ideas may not have had the best shape in the past but one little jog can provide you an idea for a post or something more.

A Kind Courtesy

Please share this post if you felt it was insightful and useful.

Feel very welcome to leave me a comment, especially if you feel there was more that I could have mentioned.

I lurk on Twitter and would love to hear from you.

 

Image Credits

Note: All images have been modified. All are covered under CC0 Public Domain from Pixabay. I have only attributed to pay a courtesy to Pixabay and the creators of these images.

Featured image by Unsplash via Pixabay

Drafting image by Pexels via Pixabay

Book Door image by Ninocare via Pixabay

Wet Ring image by Josemdelaa via Pixabay

Bald Eagle image by FlashBuddy via Pixabay

Domain image by EStudioWebDoce via Pixabay

Letters image by Andrys via Pixabay

Doggy pals image by Herney via Pixabay

Notepad image by DariuszSankowski via Pixabay

FastMail MX Record Setup BlueHost

BlogPrefect.com switched from the mail systems provided by BlueHost to redirecting the MX records to FastMail. This was done primarily for visibility and consolidation purposes. I shall be taking you through a How To on redirecting your MX records to point to FastMail from BlueHost. This guide also includes the step to include the DKIM signing key.

FastMail MX Record Setup BlueHost

This guide provides some assistance on setting up your MX record on BlueHost server end so that you can use FastMail to manage your email. The steps are fairly straightforward, you just have to wait some time when the MX records are updated.

  • Estimated time to change the code: 10 minutes.
  • Ease of coding: Easy to Moderate.
  • Time for the record changes to cascade through: Upto 24 hours.

Before getting started:

  • Make sure you have your domain username and password to hand.
  • Make sure you have your FastMail username and password to hand.

Notes and Disclaimer

Note 1: This change is considered “highly visible”. The exact words that FastMail uses. This means that you should schedule making this change when there is less activity. A good time is at night when you are receiving less email.

Note 2: The Subdomain I have that rests underneath BlogPrefect.com doesn’t have a subdomain MX Record setting like the one displayed in FastMail with the form of maindomain.subdomain.com. It appears as its own DNS record in the DNS zone editor on BlueHost, therefore it is considered its own domain for the purposes of email. This means you have to setup a new domain on FastMail.com and edit the MX records on the host.

Note 3: If you are hosted elsewhere (not BlueHost) these instructions can still work but please note that some of the settings such as “Host Record” may use a different character than @.

Note 4: For my own privacy and security I have redacted my host details and the DKIM signing key in the images displayed.

Disclaimer: I do not assume responsibility for any changes you make to your DNS record. If you are unsure of how to proceed I recommend you consult with a professional before continuing.

Disclaimer: FastMail is a paid email service and after a trial period will cost a fee.

Stage 1: FastMail Setup (The Easy Part)

1. Access “Settings” from the top left drop down.
2. Select “Domains” on the left hand side menu.
3. Click the “Add Domain” button.

Stage 1

Note that in this picture I already have my main Domain at BlueHost setup. Your version will be blank if you have not yet set up your domain.

 

4. Add your domain, e.g. example.com, you don’t need the www.

FastMail Settings 2

 

5. Press “Save” when complete.

Stage 1 Complete.

Stage 2: Make a Note of the FastMail DNS Required Settings

1. Press Edit on the Domain

p3

Note: you won’t get a unique DKIM signing key if you don’t save the Domain first. This is an auto generated alphanumeric long chain code that is hard to break.

2. Press “Show DNS settings”

This link can be easy to miss.

This link can be easy to miss.

3. Make a note of these settings, leave the window open so that you can copy and paste them later.

You will need these 4 settings. 2 are MX, 2 are TXT.

You will need these 4 settings. 2 are MX, 2 are TXT.

Stage 2 Complete.

Stage 3: Edit/Add the DNS entries to the MX record in BlueHost

Note: You can do these out of order if you wish as long as you have amended 1 MX and 1 TXT entry and added 1 MX and 1 TXT entry.

1. Login to BlueHost
2. Go to Domains > Zone Editor

Domains > Zone Editor BlueHost

3. Select your domain from the drop down (if you have more than one). The page will expand to show you the DNS records.

Select Domain

4. Scroll down to MX (Mail Exchanger)

MX Records on BlueHost

5. Edit the first record by clicking edit. The default is set to Priority 0. You will be changing the priority to 10 and changing the points to field to FastMail’s SMTP mail engine.

Edit BlueHost

6. Enter the following, then press save.

After Edit Bhost

7. Scroll up to “Add DNS Record” and enter the following, then press add record. This will add the priority 20 element of the SMTP mail engine for FastMail.

Add P20 MX Bhost

8. Edit this TXT entry for SPF by scrolling down to TXT. SPF helps prevent spam.

Edit SPF Bhost

9. Paste in the “txt value” and press save. You will cut and paste this info from FastMail.

Edit SPF Bhost P2

10. For DKIM Scroll up to “Add DNS Record” and enter the following, then press “add record”. DKIM is another spam protection feature.

Note: The Host Record is mesmtp._domainkey, The txt value is the really long chain of alphanumeric code that begins “v=DKIM1; k=RSA; p=

DKIM Key

11. When complete you should see the following:

Records Complete

Stage 3 Complete.

Stage 4: Await Confirmation

Await your Confirmation, you will see when you go into Settings>Domains in FastMail that it has been approved. If you’ve made a hash of things you’ll have to check what you entered at BlueHost’s end.

FastMail Domain Active

You should receive this email from FastMail:-

FastMail DNS Confirmation Email

If you don’t receive this email, something went wrong. Propagation doesn’t take as long as 48 hours normally. Mine was ready in less than an hour.

If you did make a major mistake or in future want to leave FastMail, you can return the records back to the BlueHost default by pressing this button:

Reset Zone File

The default will direct all mail back to its original destination.

Stage 5: Setting Up Aliases

You will need to set up your aliases in order to send and receive as different personas of your domain. E.g. sales@example.com

I will show you how to setup 1 alias, then you just need to rinse and repeat.

1. Go to FastMail Settings > Aliases and Press “New Alias”.

Alias Screen - FastMail

2. Enter your new alias in the Email Box. Select the drop down to the right after the ‘@’ sign to select the correct domain if you have more than one. Press “Save” when you are done.

Add New Alias Screen - FastMail

3. The information will take 15 minutes to update so be patient. This 15 minutes will apply to each Alias.

15 minute wait. FastMail.

4. FastMail recommends that you add Abuse and Postmaster as two default aliases. This is so that spam issues can be mitigated. Other good suggestions include your  First Name, Sales, Support and Info.

5. Test your new email addresses by sending from another account. Make sure you can send and receive without errors.

Stage 5 Complete.

 

In Closing

I hope you found this guide useful. There is nowhere specifically written to take you through this process so I hope this has provided a sufficient short cut. If there are any refinements you think are needed or you hit a log-jam with your setup, let me know.

 

Sharing is Caring

Please share this with the world, not only to help your fellow man and woman but also because I asked nicely. You can use the sharing links to the left from SumoMe.

If you’d like to get in contact with me regarding this guide, you can leave a comment below, you can DM me on Twitter by following this link, or you can send an email to headboy [at] blogprefect.com.

Happy Emailing 🙂

 

Image Credits

  • FastMail Screenshots depict UI from FastMail.com and have been used for illustrative purposes only. The FastMail logo is copyright of FastMail.com.
  • BlueHost Screenshots depict UI from BlueHost.com and have been used for illustrative purposes only. The BlueHost logo is copyright of BlueHost.com.

How To Inbox Zero

Managing emails is yet another process that clogs our day to day. Back before the advent of emails, it was letters that clogged our world. Now, emails are the virtual clutter in our life.

We generate a staggering number of emails and receive even more on a daily basis and they all have to end up somewhere. It is no wonder that being overwhelmed by emails is a common occurrence but it doesn’t have to be that way.

How to Inbox Zero

Unfortunately I’m going to have to remind you of the nagging that your mother or father might have had in store for you when you were younger. If you tidy up your toys each day you won’t have such a mess.

How do we get out of control in the first place?

It is a matter of lack of discipline, lack of motivation and not controlling what comes in through the front door.

  1. Control
  2. Discipline
  3. Motivation

You are the boss!

Unless you have money to spend on employing someone to manage your inbox you are going to have to get a grip of this yourself.

Every action requires you to be in the driving seat so you are going to have to roll up your sleeves.

What are the drawbacks of a bloated inbox?

  • Simple actions take longer
  • It is difficult to differentiate what is important amongst the competing demand
  • You are far more likely to get lost in your emails rather than being pinpoint accurate with your time spent
  • You start to run close to your inbox size limit which may prevent new emails filtering through

Bloated inboxes need continuous scrolling up and down to find what you are looking for and may force you to use the search function more frequently.

 

What Mindset Do You Need To Get Clear?

You need to cast aside some of your sentimentality when cleaning out your inbox. A bad inbox displays signs that you are a hoarder. Sentimentality combined with de-motivation and a lazy bone or two may be what has led to this problem.

A pro-active approach is needed.

You need to assign an hour per day to this task. Can’t do an hour? Try 30 minutes. You won’t get enough done in 10.

Determining Which Kind of Strategy To Start With

There are two types of email inbox user. Low and High volume receivers form the two groups.

 

High Volume Receivers

A high volume receiver is receiving between 100+ emails a day. You’ve got a serious problem so it benefits you to go through the whole shrinking process from Phase 1: Step 1.

Low Volume Receivers

You can get started on deleting the bulk of email straight away so skip to Phase 1: Step 3 unless you think you can benefit from shrinking your intake down.

Important Exceptions to Mention Before Starting:

During legal proceedings it is best to retain all emails regardless of how little importance you may associate with them. However, I would strongly recommend saving them by printing them to .pdf and where necessary, print to hard copy. They will require their own folder. With legal documentation, don’t delete if you are unsure as it may be difficult to recover later.

Deletion is not always final

Often there might be a ‘deleted’ folder. This will give you a second chance to rescue something before it is deleted forever.

If your inbox size is at its maximum, you may need to ensure that all emails in the deleted folder are permanently deleted before your overall mailbox size is restored and you can start using your account properly.

It is good practice to clean out your deleted emails on a regular basis. In some cases, deleted files will be cleaned off by the system every 30 days. Some systems do this sooner.

THE PROCESS

Phase 1: Purge

The Purge Phase involves you taking a two-pronged attack to your email. You start with what is coming in then end by what you’ve already received.

Why start with what is coming in?

If you don’t start with what is coming in you will soon be overwhelmed by a wealth of emails you don’t need. You won’t have solved the frequency problem. The deletion stage will be longer lasting because you have already destroyed the source of the nuisance.

 

Step 1: Sort by Sender

The most effective way to start stripping back your emails is to sort your emails by sender.

 

Step 2: Eliminate

Don’t delete all of the emails before unsubscribing if you are on a mail subscription. You need to unsubscribe first then delete.

Eliminate the senders that you don’t want to receive content from anymore. Select all of their emails and delete them.

Mark spam as spam. Rather than a simple delete some of the email clients give you a chance to identify spam. Normally spam originates from dodgy named email origins and uses unusual subject lines.

If possible, block those individuals that you continuously delete from, one by one.

 

Step 3: Sort by Date (oldest first)

Important note: some of your mail may still be important so don’t delete unless you are sure.

Create a folder or have a folder free to transfer emails to. This will vary depending on your provider.

Work from the oldest to the newest, deleting non relevant emails. Transfer relevant emails to the other folder. You can “star” or flag important emails.

Whilst in this process, if you have important documents, consider whether they are more appropriately kept as a hard copy. Some bank letters are better kept offline as a hard copy but even these lose their importance after 6 years.

Those items with attachments that are useful can be downloaded. When you are satisfied that the document has been handled correctly you can delete.

 

Step 4: Repeat this Process

Repeat the whole process in 4 weeks’ time as emails mount up again. There may be some emails that aren’t caught on your first sweep with regards subscription or blocking.

 

Phase 2: Organise

Create a number of folders to store the emails from recipients you know you will be keeping in future.

Tips for users with POP mail accounts on a local client:

If using a POP mail account (One that provides a local storage of emails such as Outlook), you can set up some “rules” for your emails.

Suggested rules:

  • Move to folder
  • Move to folder and provide an alert
  • Send to Deleted items**

**Try to avoid receiving these in the first place.

Outlook looks like so:-

Rules can be found along the top of the menu. Microsoft have made this screen a bit muddled.

Rules can be found along the top of the menu. Microsoft have made this screen a bit muddled.

 

Following the wizard is the easiest path to success.

Following the wizard is the easiest path to success.

 

Phase 3: Manage

Every day, check your mail and action changes.

  • Unsubscribe if you don’t need the emails you are receiving. If you find yourself deleting immediately on a regular basis, unsubscribe.
  • Mark spam as spam to train the spam filter.
  • Delete those emails that are not important. Everything is not important after 6 months unless it is a bill you have to keep and then you should consider saving it as a hard copy.
  • Place important emails in folders after responding or taking action on them.
  • Decommission important emails after their time has passed by printing to .pdf

If your email starts getting out of control again, start from Phase 1. Rinse and repeat.

 

In Closing

You should find a great deal of relief in having an empty inbox on a regular basis. It is good to know that everything is sorted. You will find that your efficiency will increase and you will know where everything important is.

If you’ve found this guide useful, feel free to share.

If you have any improvements to this process or any other considerations you’d like to share, let me know.

For Bloggers

I use FastMail as my email client, its fast, functional and easy to set up. Currently the Affiliate link is down therefore I won’t display any warnings here but I would still recommend the service.

I also wrote this article of my first thoughts, more food for thought.

Rules can be setup to manage your emails as per below:-

Found in "Settings" under "Rules"

Found in “Settings” under “Rules”

The resulting rule can be edited if it doesn't perform as expected.

The resulting rule can be edited if it doesn’t perform as expected.

More Useful Links on the Subject

 

Image Credits

Featured image by Andi_Munich via Pixabay