I thought I’d start this new blog with some brief, general posts about tools, strategies, systems and good habits that I use in my own business.
I’ll start with something simple — and yet that’s the whole point: GMail.
I have used an ordinary free GMail account for about 99% of my email correspondence since it launched in 2004. To make a long story short, it just does everything I need it to do. I’ve learned to use a few things in the Settings, and I enjoy a pretty stress-free relationship with email. Spam email has not been the slightest problem for over a decade. GMail has never been out of service, at least not that I’ve been aware. I’ve never had any issue with not receiving an email I should have received. I can always find any email in the past using the the search function (and that means about fourteen years’ worth, at this point!)
But there’s another very important component to my generally stress-free relationship with email: I do accept that it needs to be checked regularly, in proportion to its importance to my business, or to any personal relationships where email is used. In other words, I don’t check it dozens of times every day, because that isn’t necessary. On weekdays, which I consider business days, I tend to check it early in the day and several times throughout the day. On weekends, on a much more laid-back schedule. When I do check it, I do a couple of things:
- I quickly mark any spam, so that GMail keeps learning. That only takes a few seconds, and in fact for years now I have only rarely seen any spam in my GMail inbox, because its spam filters work great
- I quickly unsubscribe from any bulk newsletter I don’t want to keep getting. For those who don’t know this: all legitimate bulk emails have an unsubscribe link, usually somewhere near the bottom of the page. If it doesn’t have an unsubscribe link, and it’s from a company or person I know nothing about, I mark it as spam.
And then I go about reading and responding to emails, or deciding to deal with them later. But my point was that, when I faithfully do the two things I describe above, I am most of the way to having my email life be stress-free. I think they’re important; I’ve seen many people who are anxious over their email mainly because there’s “so much junk in there”. If they will take some common-sense steps, there simply won’t be a lot of junk in there — if any at all.
There’s a lot to handling email correspondence in general, and I’ll be happy to pontificate about that in other blog posts.
For now, I wanted to mention the fact that GMail just works for me. But I wanted to mention it in a specific context: GMail is a good alternative to the hassles that often accompany maintaining a domain email address these days (such as firstname.lastname@example.org.) Why they’re often problematic is a whole other topic, but basically I question whether people involved in very small businesses really need to use a domain email address, whether it’s of any significant value to the business.
But where domain email addresses are necessary and where they have become a problem, Google’s GSuite email is a really good solution which I often recommend to my clients. It costs $5/month per address, and provides extremely reliable email service with the GMail interface and features, already familiar to a lot of people. I think it’s well worth it. And if it’s not worth $5/month, then a simple GMail address might be a good solution.
So I use a single dignified GMail address (my name — not using a pet’s name, lots of random numbers, etc.) for just about all my business and personal email correspondence. I also have a domain email address which I can’t get rid of even though I don’t need it anymore; it’s cemented into some important online accounts, and at least one client still uses it to contact me. So I have to keep it. And for that, I use Fetch As Google, which pulls the domain emails into my regular old GMail account which I keep telling you about ad infinitum here. That way I get all of the domain emails, but don’t have to open a separate email program, or, god forbid, use a Webmail interface.