How to Capture and Keep the Unicorn Called Inbox-Zero

Email is the bane of my existence. It is the constant interrupter. It knocks me off schedule. It distracts. Yet, it is important. It is one of the major forms of communication I use.

This post has a lot of goodies for you. I have created a cheat sheet for you to download and take with you.

Download Your Email Inbox-Zero Cheat Sheet

Let me make a confession. I had 954 emails in my inbox yesterday. It was like my inbox was 954-lbs – just weighing me down.

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I received an email from John Lee Dumas this week that has shifted my paradigm regarding email. I am writing this post to myself as I want to solidify this change in thinking. I also want to execute and solve my email problem once and for all.

OPA

Have you ever heard of OPA before? I hadn’t until I read JLD’s email. OPA stands for Other People’s Agenda. That is what the email inbox is. A collection of emails.  All of them are seeking to get you on their agenda. That almost makes me mad. So here is my plan to effectively and efficiently deal with my inbox. To be clear, I am defining daily email success as reaching inbox zero every day.

At this moment, I have achieved inbox-zero. I feel fantastic. I have captured the unicorn. This is how I’m going to keep it.

In fact, anyone can achieve email success (inbox zero) by following these 4 steps.

The 4 Steps to Achieve Inbox Zero…and stay there!

1. Declare Bankruptcy – Last night I was staring at an inbox with 950+ emails. If I spent one minute sifting through each email, it would have taken 15+ hours. No thank you. I started from the oldest emails and highlighted all on a page – 50 at a time. I then quickly scanned the emails and unchecked any that I wanted to take a look at. After about an hour, I was down to less than 70 emails.

2. Utilize Technology – There are some great apps I would recommend that can help you stay at inbox zero. These apps also helped me deal with the last 70 emails I had left after my bankruptcy.

1. Inbox Pause – I didn’t know this existed, but I can’t tell you how excited I am about it. This free app will literally pause your inbox. If you need to focus for 90 minutes on a specific task without emails flooding your inbox, just pause it. It is brilliant.

inbox pause

 

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This single app puts you back in control of your inbox. In fact, I suggest you keep your inbox paused and only turn it on during scheduled intervals. This means you deal with email completely on your schedule.

And it only works for gmail.

2. Boomerang – You may have heard of Boomerang as I believe it is the number one email add-on for productivity. The same people make Inbox Pause who make Boomerang.

What Boomerang does is give you some scheduling options. You can take an email you don’t know what to do with and have it boomerang back to your inbox in an hour, day, week, or time of your choosing.

Boomerang also lets you schedule emails to be sent later. So, if you are burning the midnight oil, you can schedule the email to be sent at 7:30 a.m. Lot’s of flexibility. I’ve been using this like crazy of the last 24 hours.

Note: the free version is very limited. Do yourself a favor and buy the $4.99 version of it. There’s no telling how many hours this app will save you. Your time is worth way more than $4.99/hr.

And I think it is also only for gmail. Time to switch?

3. Mailbox App – This app is for your phone from the makers of Dropbox. This app allows you to do on your phone what Boomerang does on your browser. It makes email ‘light, fast, and mobile-friendly.” And it does.

With a swipe, you can quickly archive, trash, or schedule it to come back to your inbox in the future – just like Boomerang.

This one works on iOS and Android. They have a desktop app now, but I haven’t used it. It can unify your emails on different platforms – sounds pretty slick.

4. Filters – This is super easy in Gmail and cumbersome in Outlook – but possible. I signed up for John Maxwell’s email list. Turns out that he emails more than I like. I do want his emails, but I want them on my schedule. So I set up a filter that takes his emails straight to a special ‘folder’ and skips my inbox.

3. Only look at an email once – This is where I really struggle. I will look at an email, not know what to do with it, and leave it there. I’ve wasted 30 seconds and not resolved anything. Thus, I will have to look at it again. Maybe then I will be ready to make a decision.

You have 4 choices – just four.

  1. Deal with it – I generally do this if it takes 2 minutes or less to do so. If you’ve read Getting Things Done, you know where I got that idea. If you haven’t read this book, do so immediately!
  2. Delegate it – This could take a couple forms. Forward the email immediately to the person on your team who will deal with it. Or, you have someone on your team responsible for handling your inbox, and only the important stuff makes it to you. That sounds awesome and is on my bucket-list.
  3. Delete it – Nuff said.
  4. Defer/Boomerang it – Kick the can down the road until you are in a better place to consider which of the first three choices apply. Just don’t let the email sit in your inbox in the meantime.

4. Turn off notifications – There is nothing more distracting than that pop up notification informing you that you have a new email. Turn it off. I’m serious. Stop reading this post and figure out how to turn the emails notifications off.

This will be less of an issue if you are using the pause app. For you non-gmail folks (I’m so sorry), you will have to do this manually.

So now the question is how long can I maintain inbox zero? I’m going to make this one last.

But I need your help. How have you managed email and kept it from distracting you or completely derailing your day? What have I left off of my list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Download Your Email Inbox-Zero Cheat-sheet

How You Can Become a Top Producer

So many settle for mediocrity.  I have done it myself.  I despise that place.  You can see others around you excelling at what they do – what you could do.  You may find yourself asking, “Is it even possible for me to have that kind of success?”  Good question.

The Four  Not-So-Secret

I started playing the guitar when I was 14 years old.  I was looking for something that I could be good at.  I had already realized it wasn’t going to be sports.  I took a few months of lessons and then kept playing.  By the time I got to college, I was OK at best.

Then Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds played a show at my college.  They were incredible.  Two guys with their acoustic guitars on stage playing.  No band.  Just them.

[Video] Ask Bo – A Question from Brian Fleming

In this edition of Ask Bo, Brian Fleming submits his question.  Brian is a CRE pro from Fort Lauderdale and wants to know my take on all the new CRE tech apps that seem to come out on a weekly basis.

How can you remain productive if you are spending all your time trying to learn new applications?  Great question.

I share the 4 essential CRE applications (or software) you absolutely need to remain competitive.  And I also share a huge need that the CRE industry needs.

Be sure to connect with Brian on these platforms:

Links from the video:

Why You Will Never Dominate Your Market – These 7 Reasons

If you are reading this blog, it is likely that you want more.  You want to improve your productivity, your prospecting, your presence, your something.  Nobody gets up every morning with the goal of being mediocre.  Ultimately, you want to dominate your market.  But the truth is, you can’t.

7 Reasons You Will Never Dominate Your Market

My kids are in the driveway right now playing basketball with the neighbor kids.  When I was their age, the Bad Boys version of the Detroit Pistons were winning championships.  I remember playing in the driveway and pretending I was Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars.

I wanted to dominate a basketball game the way they did. But I topped out at 5’7” with less than average athletic ability and a suspect jump shot.  I was never going to dominate a basketball game.

And you are never going to dominate your market because of these 7 reasons.

7 Reasons You Will Never Dominate Your Market

New Feature – Ask Me a Question

One of my desires this year is to make this blog more interactive with my readers…with you.  I recently stumbled across a really cool app/plugin that is going to help me do so.

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You can now ask me a question, via your computer, directly through this blog.  Here is how it works.

  1. Click on the Send Voicemail button on the right middle of any page on my blog.BoBarron.com Speakpipe
  2. Make sure your mic is on.
  3. Record a question up to 90 seconds in length.  The app lets you listen to your message and re-record so don’t fret about flubbing up.
  4. Be sure to include your name, location, and your website – so I can send traffic your way.
  5. Feel free to ask me anything about main topics of this blog – or anything else.  Prospecting, Productivity, Personal Development, Creating Presence, or Life Lessons.
  6. At least one a month, I will choose a question to answer.  And if you are really lucky, I will post my response with video!
  7. The chosen question will receive a prize!

So what has been on your mind?  What would you like to ask?  I certainly don’t have all the answers, but we can all learn together.

The 4 Needs of Every New to the Business Broker

On March 18 at 2pm EST, Rod Santomassimo and I are hosting a free webinar – How to Thrive as a New to the Business Broker. We will be covering in more depth the content of this post. You can register below!

I remember the first day I started in commercial real estate.  I got out of the Marine Corps the day before.  All of the sudden, I’m wearing civilian clothes and standing in a blank office.  There was a phone and a laptop on my desk and little else.  If I’m being honest, I didn’t have a clue what to do.

The 4 Things Every New To The Business

I spent the next two years trying to figure it out.  I shadowed my dad constantly.  I noticed how he handled situations – what he said to clients and prospects.  I was soaking it all in.  I battled the nagging thought in my mind that said, “Why would anyone want to work with you when they could work with your dad.”

I lacked confidence.  I lacked a framework.  I lacked understanding about what were the most important things.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

Commercial real estate is not easy.  Most new to the business (N2B) brokers don’t make it past their first year.  I was fortunate that I had a dad who wouldn’t let me fail.  Everyone doesn’t have that.  This is why Rod Santomassimo, founder and president of the Massimo Group, and I are hosting a free webinar later this week on How to Thrive as a New to the Business Broker.

We believe any N2B broker can thrive if they focus on 4 critical needs.

4 Needs of Every N2B Broker

  1. Pipeline – A broker’s pipeline is the bloodline for his/her business.  In fact, a 10-year study showed that the amount of time between a broker’s first and second deal accurately predicted the long-term success of their career.  A N2B broker needs deal flow in a full and vibrant pipeline.
  2. Prospecting – Prospecting is how you fill up your pipeline.  I spoke with a N2B broker last week who said his shop gave him a phone and a book of property owners.  His directive was to start calling.  Is that the best way to prospect?  How do you learn and apply the best prospecting practices of top-producing brokers?
  3. Production – Prospecting is one thing, but what do you do when you start to win some business?  How do you get that exclusive to the finish line so you can actually get paid?  In many industries, you gain a client when the prospect buys something.  There is an added step in real estate.  You have to find the business, then win the business, and then fulfill the business.  Then you get paid.
  4. Planning – How should a N2B broker spend his/her time?  Should it be on research?  20 hours a week prospecting?  Networking? Oh that someone would have given me a blueprint at the start of my career that could have accelerated my success.

Why You Should Time-Block to Maximize Your Productivity

This post is about WHY you should time block. I’ve attached a worksheet at the bottom you can download for free. The worksheet is all about HOW to time-block. It is my gift to you because you rock and I’m thankful for you.

At the beginning of 2014, I posted a reader’s survey which hundreds of you took part in (thank you, by the way.)  One question I asked was which topic that I write about do you enjoy the most.  The clear winner was productivity.

productivity, time blocking, time management

This is me with no margin in my life.

I asked another question about the biggest problem you are facing right now.  The overwhelming winner here was ‘not enough time.’

For all of you who can relate, this post is for you.  Frankly, I often find myself in the same boat.  What I wouldn’t give for 30 hours in a day or 8 days in a week.  Time-blocking is the single most impactful tool I use to maximize my productivity.

Time blocking is the practice of scheduling appointments with yourself, on your actual calendar (whether a digital camera of a DayTimer if you are my mom), and then honor your appointments with yourself.

I believe everyone should maximize their productivity by time-blocking for these 5 reasons.

The 30 Tools I Use For Productivity, Blogging, Social Media, & Travel (18 are free!)

I don’t know how many times I’ve said – “I wish I had more hours in the day!”

I’m sure you’ve had that sentiment as well.  Alas, 24 hours a day is all we get.  That isn’t going to change.  What can change is how much you can squeeze out of each hour.

30tools 3d cover

Before I go on, I want to make this point.  I’m not advocating becoming a workaholic – or even feeding that addiction.  I’m talking about getting more work done faster.  I’m talking about being able to have more time for what really matter.  Time for your family.  Time to take care of your health.  Time for self-development.  Time for care for your spiritual health.

Some of the most valuable posts I’ve ever read have been on the subject of productivity.  I consume that kind of information.  Everything I’ve learned about productivity apps has come from others or just tinkering with them.  All I’ve learned about traveling efficiently comes from experience and what others have shared with me.

So here is my resource list of the 30 tools I use on a regular basis to squeeze more out of every day.  I’m going to give you the highlights here, and you will be able to download it at the end of the post.

Productivity

When I did my reader survey last month, the subject of productivity was the number one topic of choice.  In this section, I give you my favorite free and paid tools for increasing your productivity.  And here’s a little hint – 1password and Tripit are completely awesome.  Awesome!

Blogging

Blogging has revolutionized my online presence.  It is not easy to do.  But it is so worth it.  The key to blogging well over time is to systematize it.  I have a few templates that I use for most posts.  It saves me a ton of time.  These are the tools I use to build my email list, optimize for SEO, etc.  These tools will save you a ton of time and allow you to maximize your ROI.

Social Media

I’m almost sick of social media.  I believe most people have accepted that social media provides value – sometimes a ton of it.  Though I’m sick of talking about, I use it everyday.  And if you’ve never heard or used BufferApp, you need to check this section out.

Travel

I traveled a ton for work last year.  I think I was on 65 airplanes.  If there is one thing I’m good at, it is navigating airports.  Traveling is a drain on your energy no matter who you are.  Being able to minimize the frustrations of travel while remaining productive saved me a tremendous amount of stress.  These are the tools I used to do it.

Bonus Section:  Recommended Books

As a bonus, I’ve included some of my favorite books in the following categories:

  • Platform building
  • Productivity
  • Business
  • Leadership
  • Stewardship
  • Parenting
  • Marriage
  • Commercial Real Estate
  • And others…

These are books that I’ve read and personally recommend.  I’m no expert in any of these subjects.  However, these are books that have helped me grow in these areas.

To download your copy of this free resource list, simply click the button below!

Download Your Free Resource List

CRE Tech & App Review – ClientLook and Today’s Big Announcement

In January of this year, I wrote a post on why you should use a Simple and Cloud-Based CRM System.  In that post, I profiled ClientLook.  I’m not going to rehash what I wrote before.  I do want to give you an update and discuss their excited announcement today.

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Update on My Previous Beefs

Speed – I mentioned in my previous post that my main beef with ClientLook was the speed.  That is no longer an issue.  ClientLook has made numerous upgrades in this department and it cooks.  Very fast.  Thank you!

Property Database – ClientLook is now in development of a property database.  Today, I got to see a screenshot of it.  This will make ClientLook a complete solution for me.

Upgrades

Email – One thing that is difficult to track, quantify, and report on is email.  ClientLook makes it very easy to automatically attach emails to specific projects and contacts.  Each project or contact in your database has a specific email addresses generated for it.  All you have to do is include that email address in an email, and that email will be recorded in the correct project and/or contact in ClientLook.

The big win with this is with reporting.  You should be reporting to your clients on a monthly basis.  Most of us track who we spoke with, how many property tours, how many offers, etc.  What gets lost is all the time and work that happens via email.  ClientLook solves this for you.

A best practice for this functionality is creating a contact in your email program with the project email address.  For example, create a contact for your listing 123 Main St.  Now you don’t have to remember the email address.  You just put 123 Main St in the bcc line.  Piece of cake.

Search – I griped a little before about the search capability of ClientLook.  They have taken large strides in this area.  It is now much easier to navigate through 1000’s of contacts quickly.  You can also search and quickly find notes in a contact or project file.

Today’s Announcement (Sept. 26th, 2013)

On a webinar today, Michael Griffin announced that ClientLook has formed a strategic alliance with xceligent.com.  I have known about this for some months, so it is good to be able to talk about it.  I think this is a big with for the Commercial Real Estate industry.

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xcelligent.com’s answer to Loopnet is the newly launched – and very free – CommercialSearch.com.  Most of the national CRE firms have their listings populated on CommercialSearch.  I am working right now with Michael Griffin to get all of Sperry Van Ness’s listings on there as well.  It may have already reached critical mass.  Your listings should be on there.

Michael’s announcement today centered around 4 things.

  1. Automated Lead Generation – A prospect is on CommercialSearch and is looking at your listing.  When they click to get more information, CommercialSearch captures their information.  It then checks to see if the prospect is already in your ClientLook database.  If not, it creates the new contact, including all contact information, and notifies you of a new lead.  Pretty sweet.  They are also developing a plugin to do the same on your website.
  2. Automatic Activity Reporting – Some of you will run a report on a monthly basis from Loopnet and give it to your listing client showing online activity.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Loopnet automatically put that in your CRM for you – and in the right place?  CommercialSearch does that for ClientLook.  All that data in one place makes me “happy, happy, happy!”
  3. Property Marketing – The information will also flow the other way.  A new listing in ClientLook will automatically be placed on CommercialSearch for you.  Efficiency is a beautiful thing.
  4. Real-Time Embedded Research – This is cool.  If xcelligent.com covers your market and you subscribe, you can run reports.  Say you want a list of all the attorneys in town using over 15,000 sf of office space.  You can import that list automatically into ClientLook.  The exciting part is any time xcelligent.com updates the contact information for one of those attorneys, it will update in your ClientLook account.

I’m excited to see how this shakes out and if CommercialSearch.com can reach critical mass so that these integrations can be of great value.  I am confident that it will.

Question: What do you think about the partnership between ClientLook and xcelligent.com? What new functions and products would you like to see come out of the partnership? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

The 18th Rule of Email Etiqeutte

See below…

Last week I was in Chicago visiting our main technology provider.  I had a great day with these guys.  At lunch one of them made a comment that made me rethink something I do all the time.  So thanks Vishu.  You have given me the 18th rule of email etiquette.

iStockPhoto by SquaredPixels

iStockPhoto by SquaredPixels

Last year I wrote a post called the 17 Rules of Email Etiquette.  Before I give you the 18th rule, here is a recap of the other 17.  These definitely bear repeating.

  1. DON’T USE ALL CAPS – just hard on the eyes, is it not?
  2. Sarcasm doesn’t translate
  3. Email is a poor medium for bad news
  4. Don’t reply all! – my company does this too much, and I’m falling into the habit.  That ends now.
  5. Use property grammar (revision – I used property there instead of proper – kinda Freudian, no?)
  6. Use the spell check
  7. Re-read before you send
  8. Understand the permanence of email
  9. Don’t be a jerk
  10. Proofread your emails
  11. Keep your emails brief
  12. Don’t email angry – I did this last week and definitely regret it.
  13. Please don’t forward chain emails
  14. Refrain from using ‘high priority’ – if it is high priority, call.
  15. Craft an appropriate and descriptive subject
  16. Complete your signature
  17. Be pithy

18 – It is lazy to forward an email to someone else without your comments.  How often do you forward an email with just a comment that says ‘See below…’  I do this all the time.  When we do this we miss the opportunity frame the information and share our thoughts.  If it is important enough to forward to someone else’s inbox, take the time to tell them why in your own words.  Otherwise, they just have to guess.

So I ask you – how often do you forward an email without stating why or giving context?  What would your 19th Rule be?  Leave us your input in the comments below.