I’ve been thinking about communication a lot over the last year. I believe that how small and medium-sized businesses communicate with customers needs to change, especially post-COVID-19. I can’t wait until a talented entrepreneur solves the B2C problem! I’ve recently spent time analyzing how I communicate. I spend tons of time in Zoom, email, Slack, texts, and a variety of other channels. Managing all of this every day consumes more of my energy than I’d like.
I started thinking about how serious this is. I’ve said numerous times publicly that a solution to a problem is more of a nice-to-have (versus a must-have) if people affected by it haven’t taken steps to solve it. Of course, that applies to me too, so I identified what I’ve done to alleviate this problem. I’ve tried a variety of hacks over the years, from implementing software tools to removing myself from some communication channels. I’ve stuck with one hack and expanded my use of it: multiple inboxes.
I get a decent amount of email, but the importance of it varies wildly. Some messages should get a response immediately, while others deserve only a glance when I have serious downtime. Sorting through all of it was a challenge. So, like many other people, I created multiple accounts for different purposes. I have a personal email address for close friends and family. I have a work email address for close professional relationships. I have an email address for newsletters and interests. I have an email address to capture inbound communication from social channels (LinkedIn and others). There are a few others, but you get the idea. Some I check every day, while others may get a glance once a month.
This method helps address (not solve) my problems. It’s very manual and far from ideal, but it’s what I’ve been doing. I know lots of other people who use a similar approach. There are features inside Gmail and other email platforms that address some of the pain points, but to me they aren’t ideal. Email clients like Mail and Outlook don’t do it for me either. Through research, I’ve found a few things that may address some of my pains. I’ll be testing them in the near future. Hopefully I’ll find a silver bullet. Ideally, I’d like something robust that addresses the following high-level issues:
- Privacy – I don’t want important email addresses on email marketing lists.
- Prioritization – I’d like communication from people who are important to me prioritized.
- Aggregation – I’d like messages from various accounts and channels in one central place (maybe even one view).
- Segregation – I’d like some sort of segregation, although I admittedly don’t know exactly what that would look like.
- Presentation – I’d like everything presented in a clean easy-to-digest manner.
There’s a list of features I’d like too. Right now, my hack puts the onus on the user—me—to manage multiple accounts, channels, etc. It’s doable but, some days, draining. My energy could be better used. It’d be nice to find a tool that does all this in a beautiful way that makes communication via a variety of channels easy and enjoyable.
If you have any suggestions for tools or hacks, please share them. I’m all ears and actively looking to solve this problem!