Along with the isolation of working from home, alone, email stress has to be one of the biggest struggles I’ve faced as a business owner. Managing that inbox anxiety from running a service-based business has not been easy but something that I feel better as I work on it. It sometimes feels like the only emails I get are panicked messages of things not working, hacked websites + requests to cut corners in order to launch a site faster. While I know these aren’t the only emails I get, getting some of them has made me leery of opening emails each day.
Which is exactly why I started resorting to tools + techniques that would help me get over this fear.
Reframing inbox anxiety
The biggest reason that I hated processing email was because of the emails that I feared getting. But the emails themselves weren’t out to get me. And most clients aren’t either. So it was time to face the music on how I felt.
That’s not to say that my feelings weren’t real, cause they very much were. But I was repeating the cycle by adding those feelings to new clients + new emails.
I started by reframing emails that I wanted to say “no” to because my gut knew the answer, I simply struggled to say it. I want to help others + thought that by saying no, I wasn’t doing that. I reframed my thinking to say that I was saying no so they could find someone excited about their project. Another way to reframe was that I was saying no so that they could find a developer with a timeframe that matched their goals. And that made me feel much better saying no.
Once I had practice there, the next challenge was to reframe the emergency emails. You know the ones… The email, call, or text where your client is panicked over a missed detail, forgotten request or general emergency. Yet, it’s not your emergency, it’s theirs.
While I believe in setting boundaries + not absorbing panic from others, I had to check myself. I can set boundaries in these situations without forgetting/ignoring the fact that my client is genuinely upset. It’s not personal to me, which helps, but it’s still a real feeling of fear or panic. And remembering that they are feeling stressed to the max helps me react with kindness at the same time that I strip away the personal feelings I had to those emails.
Setting time limits
Another tool that has helped me manage my inbox stress is by limiting when I check emails during the day. Instead of having my inbox open + letting any new message alert spike my heart rate, I control when I see those emails. Plus, I’m able to get into the mindset I need + stay there until I’ve processed all of my emails.
For me, checking email 1-2 times a day works perfectly. I often check in the morning after taking care of my most important task of the day (helllllooooooo productivity!) + always check at the end of my work day.
The end of the day check is also when I update clients on any work completed that day. Or I’ll touch base on items that I’m waiting on + filter through requests for the following day.
Besides reframing how I think about the emails I don’t love getting + limiting my time in my inbox, one of the biggest changes was to write + repeatedly use email scripts. I wrote scripts for saying no, saying yes, asking a client to pay their overdue invoice + more.
I would write the email script when the need came up + save the basic structure for the next time a similar situation happened.
After using these scripts for the past 6 years of owning a business, I realized that they needed to be shared. I wasn’t the only solopreneur experiencing stress when it was time to check my email that day. And if there’s one thing that I hate, it’s fellow entrepreneurs feeling stressed.
So I gathered up the scripts into a mad-lib style website for others to reference when they needed help knowing what to say. You set the variables (name, dates, service type, etc). Then the site spits out a script for you to copy + paste right into your email.
And none of the information is saved on my server! So you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing your invoice payment woes or what your hourly rate is. (Odds are you could raise it, cause you’re worth it.)
I call this script collection inbox anxiety + it’s going to be open for purchase in March. If you want to get some free scripts + be notified of the cart opening, sign up right now.
Right now there are 39 scripts available! And I’m editing another handful to release to the hundreds of online entrepreneurs that take advantage of this tool.