The world we live in is a loud one – and with so much noise (both literal and figurative) coming from all directions, it can be hard to effectively communicate your most important messages – and for you to effectively hear the messages that are going to have the biggest impact on your business and your life.
But Julian Treasure is on a mission to change that. Treasure is an international speaker (his five TED talks, The 4 Ways Sound Affects Us, Shh! Sound Health in 8 Steps, 5 Ways To Listen Better, Why Architects Need to Use Their Ears, and How To Speak So That People Want To Listen have been viewed over 70 million times) who speaks on the power of effective speaking, conscious listening, and how to effectively use sound in business.
He’s also a best-selling author; his most recent book, How to be Heard: Secrets for Powerful Speaking and Listening, based on his popular TED Talk, is a blueprint for building a cohesive sound experience that incorporates powerful speaking and conscious listening, both in the business world and beyond.
Treasure is also the chair of The Sound Agency, a consulting firm that advises businesses on how to effectively use sound in their physical spaces.
Finding a way to quiet an exceptionally loud inbox
Between speaking, writing, and managing his company, Treasure is a busy guy – and is always seeking ways to boost productivity and get more done in less time. But there was one place in his life where the excessive noise was becoming unmanageable – and that was his inbox.
“I have no idea how many emails I receive every day,” says Treasure. “I have three email addresses… you’d probably be talking about hundreds and hundreds of emails every day. One or two of these email addresses have been around for a long time, and after you’ve been around for long enough you get spiders on the internet, and there will be an awful lot of spam heading my way.”
If Treasure could describe his inbox in one word, it would be loud – not ideal for a person whose business is built around sound.
“I’m all about sound. Sound is my passion, and noise in general is the enemy of productivity. It’s hard to think when you’re in a very noisy place. It’s hard to communicate to somebody when you’re in a noisy place. And email—the kind of email that we’re talking about, [the kind of email] that you don’t need to see— is just noise.”
Treasure knew he needed to find a way to reduce the noise in his inbox if he wanted to increase his productivity. But it seemed like everything he tried to take back control of his email actually created more work – and ended up being more trouble than it was worth.
“I was extremely bored with the spam I was getting and I was doing my best to filter it,” says Treasure. “I set up dozens of folders in Mac where I was squirreling things away. But of course you end up with email going into 40 or 50 places, and you forget where you’ve put things and you lose track… I had, like, 150 rules set up,” says Treasure.
The way he was managing emails just wasn’t working for Treasure. He couldn’t risk losing track of important communications and didn’t want to spend hours each week deleting unnecessary emails or searching through endless folders to find what he was looking for. He needed a simple solution that would effectively manage his emails and give him his time back so he could focus on the projects that really mattered.
And that’s when he found SaneBox.
The solution to the noise
Treasure stumbled across SaneBox and decided to give it a shot. As he explored the features, the first thing he noticed was how SaneBox was able to get rid of all the unimportant and non-urgent messaging so he could get to the emails that actually mattered; it was like someone turned down the volume in his inbox so he could hear what was really important.
“[SaneBox changed my business by giving me a sense of] clarity… [and] by reducing the amount of clutter,” says Treasure. “I mean, it’s the absence of noise… It’s reducing noise and creating an environment where people can be far more productive because they can focus, because they’re looking at stuff that’s valuable and they’re not spending half their life fending off torrents of rubbish.”
SaneBox also helped Treasure better categorize his emails and make the distinction between emails that needed his immediate attention and emails he wanted to read, but on his timeline – not the sender’s.
“[SaneBox helped me by] focusing me on the different qualities of email,” says Treasure. “It helped me distinguish between news, for example, and bulk. It’s a fine distinction, but it’s an important one. [When it comes to news], these are companies I do want to hear from and keep up with… But I can batch it all up and I can just go through it all at once, as opposed to having them bother me when I don’t want it.”
The features that turned down the dial on Treasure’s inbox
After exploring all the features SaneBox had to offer, there were a few that stood out to Treasure as particularly valuable: SaneNoReplies and SaneBlackHole.
SaneNoReplies is a folder that automates the process of tracking email replies. SaneNoReplies tracks each email and alerts you whenever an email you’ve sent hasn’t received a reply. This feature ensures that no critical communications slip through the cracks and you get the response you need to move projects along.
“It’s so easy to lose track of when you email somebody and you expect a reply but then you get on with a thousand other things,” says Treasure. “So it’s a great discipline to go and check [SaneNoReplies] every week and just say, ‘oh my goodness, they never replied to me.’”
While SaneNoReplies tracks emails that need a response, SaneBlackHole keeps track of emails you don’t want or need to respond to. When you receive a message you don’t want in your inbox (like spam or sales emails), you can drag-and-drop the email into the SaneBlackHole folder. Once it’s in the folder, all future emails from that sender will immediately go to trash instead of creating unnecessary noise in your inbox.
“I get a grim satisfaction out of dragging idiotic and irritating messages from people who really haven’t thought about their communication at all,” says Treasure. “Knowing that they’re going to be devoured from there on, that makes me very happy…it saves me a great deal of time every day, not wading through all the stuff that I’d then have to wade through… it’s just horrifying to think of the amount of stuff that I’d have to wade through if I didn’t have [SaneBlackHole as] protection.”
Finding a long-term solution in SaneBox
Overall, Treasure has found that SaneBox has decreased the noise in his inbox and restored a sense of order and simplicity to the way he manages his email – a huge improvement over the way he used to do things.
“I love the simplicity and the robustness of the system,” says Treasure. “The way I used to do it, with all these rules, was complicated. You know, every time that something else came in… I had to write another rule. [With SaneBox,] by doing things once and then automatically creating rules, that’s just smart. I don’t have to keep generating these rules myself.”
“It allows me to keep tabs on what’s going on and make sure that I’m not losing out and missing things,” says Treasure. “[My old system] was very complicated. I had dozens and dozens of email folders. And as I say, it was easy to lose track of things. Whereas now I think I feel pretty comfortable that what’s in my inbox is worth looking at. And the rest of the stuff is where it should be.”
In fact, Treasure has found SaneBox to be so useful, he’s started to consider it more of a friend than a productivity tool.
“I kind of think of it as my email friend, really,” says Treasure. “It’s like a faithful friend, I would say.”