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10 Email Management Skills Everyone Should Learn to Be More Productive

10 Email Management Skills Everyone Should Learn to Be More Productive

For many people these days, email = work.

It’s just the sad (or not that sad) truth of the modern world of professionals, entrepreneurs, creatives and everyone in between.

Quite frankly, if you’re not effective with your email, you might as well not even bother coming to work.

So let’s take a closer look into this topic today, and try to make ourselves a bit more productive with our emails. The key to all this is mastering certain email management skills, ten of them, to be more exact.

1. Pick your money-making emails and prioritize them

Email management is a game of knowing where to pay the most attention and what to potentially ignore completely.

No matter your profession or the type of business you’re in, you should look for a specific category of emails that just happen to be more valuable than anything else.

If you’re in any sort of agency business (design, writing, freelancing, etc.) then those emails are usually your sales emails or some other emails that lead a client to signing a deal with you. Mastering them is how you make money. It’s how you’re turning your hours into productive output.

This is something that Ruben Gamez – founder of Bidsketch proposal software – points out when asked: “What is the #1 email management skill that entrepreneurs and professionals should master?”

His answer:

Learning how to segment email for response time. For example, at Bidsketch we’ve learned that the customers with the fastest response times to proposals, close more sales.

So how can you be responsive while not destroying your productivity? You should treat sales related emails differently, and send them either to a different folder, or email address. This leaves a much more manageable number of messages, that can be responded to soon after they come in. Other types of messages can (and should) wait.

2. Touch every email just once

Here’s what I mean. It’s very common for us to naturally mark an important email with a star, and tell ourselves that we’ll come back to it later. Then, later comes and we repeat the process again, thinking, “I’ll deal with this tomorrow.”

This is a major waste of time.

A simpler solution?

Try a variation of the “Touch It Once” principle that Ann Gomez taught me.

In a nutshell, process each email the first time you “touch” it. This means either responding to that email right away, or creating a separate task for it somewhere else. That way, your inbox remains clear.

3. Don’t treat your inbox as a to-do list

Your inbox is simply not organized in a way that would warrant treating it as a to-do list. If you do so, you’ll quickly find yourself lost in the sea of starred emails, half-done drafts, and probably more than a handful of people angry at you.

Instead, turn emails into tasks, and then move them away to other tools.

My recommendation is to use Todoist for this purpose. In a nutshell, it’s a cloud-based to-do list and task manager. Plus, it has very good integration with Gmail, which should make things even easier for you.

In short, whenever you stumble upon an email that requires some action, turn it into a Todoist task and clear it from your inbox right away.

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4. Use just one app/tool across all your devices

This may sound simple, but it’s actually surprising how many people fall into a trap of using multiple apps to manage their email. Now, the sole multitude of tools isn’t the problem. The real problems start when those tools aren’t synchronized with one another.

What you end up with is an inconsistent inbox, an inbox that looks different based on which tool you access it through.

Simple solution: Use just one tool across your all devices. For instance, if you’re on Gmail, use the native Gmail tool everywhere. If you like Outlook, then use only that. Just don’t combine different email tools.

5. Deal with email just twice a day

Even though I might have said that “email is work” at the beginning of this post, it’s actually rarely the case.

For most people, email is not what makes the money, and therefore it shouldn’t take up most of your working hours.

A simple solution is to just deal with email twice a day: once in the morning, and once in the afternoon.

And most importantly, disable all email notifications. Notifications cause interruptions. Those interruptions are more costly than you would expect. For example, as explained in this resource by Harvard Business Review:

According to a University of California-Irvine study, regaining our initial momentum following an interruption can take, on average, upwards of 20 minutes.

6. Utilize template responses

The key to many people’s productivity is their ability to not reinvent the wheel with their email responses, so to speak.

The whole trick is identifying the exact moment when a template response could be employed, instead of re-writing the same email over and over again.

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There are just two steps to mastering this skill:

  1. Identify common scenarios and types of email that you send out the most often.
  2. Create template responses for them.

One way to do it is with a tool like Yesware. Among its other features, it allows you to create such personalized email templates, and then send them out whenever needed.

7. Tame your newsletter subscriptions

If you’re like most people then you’re probably subscribed to a lot of stuff online (newsletters). Whether those are newsletters from your favorite sports teams, industry news, hobby sites, there’s likely a ton of them.

Check out Unroll.Me. It’s an all-in-one tool for managing your email subscriptions. You can set it up to send you one digest email rather than receiving tens of individual newsletter emails.

8. Be mindful of what’s going on in your inbox

“A thousand things screaming for your attention” – just about does it for a good description of your inbox, doesn’t it?

I asked Catalin Zorzini, founder of Matcha-Tea.com, to shed some light on this problem, and answer one simple question: “What’s your most valuable email habit?”

His advice:

“Fabricating time.

What if that instead of training ourselves to work more, to become faster or more efficient, we could actually fabricate more time so that we could manage our inbox in a more relaxed mindset, without a sense of urgency?

From what I’ve learned, this is entirely possible and can be achieved quite easily.

Two things: Practice mindfulness, and apply the either “HELL YEAH!” or no approach to your inbox.

Cultivate a more relaxed way of “living while working.” What I mean by that is to overcome the “autopilot” mode, and to learn how to become more aware of every single task that we’re doing on the computer (especially dealing with email), make choices from a more grounded position, and mix “work” with “fun” so that we feel we have more time.

This way, we become able not only to achieve inbox zero, but to enjoy the miracle of being alive, which we take so much for granted when we are on autopilot.”

In short, realize that what you do in your inbox has a direct impact on what you’ll do throughout the rest of your day (or week). So be mindful of that, and only devote time to things that can benefit you. The #1 trick to email management is ignoring most of it.

9. Send short emails. Only.

If you’ve been in the military then you probably know what BLUF – “bottom line up front” stands for.

In short, it’s a communication principle that encourages us to start every message with the request at the beginning, rather than burying it or building up to it.

We tend to wrongly assume that our “ask” needs a sufficient built-up, or otherwise the person we’re contacting will say no. But as it turns out, people naturally omit the build-up part anyway and go straight to the “meat” of the message.

10. Find replacement tools for things you’d otherwise do via email

Although we might be accustomed to email, and we’re familiar with the tools and the process of using them, very often we’re going to be way better off abandoning email in favor of other solutions.

For example:

  • Doing client proposals via email? Don’t. Use the aforementioned Bidsketch instead. It will not only track your every proposal, but it will also let you know when your clients see them.
  • Using your inbox as CRM? Again, don’t. Check out Nutshell CRM or something similar. Way more effective and easier to grasp.

The examples are plenty. The general rule would be to always single out the email tasks that cost you a lot of time, and then try to find replacement solutions that are more effective. There’s always something.

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More by this author

Karol Krol

Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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Last Updated on June 25, 2019

100 Motivational Quotes That Will Guide You To Massive Success

100 Motivational Quotes That Will Guide You To Massive Success

Below are the 100 most motivational quotes ever. Read them and get motivated for success, and share this post to help your friends get success too!

1. All our dream can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

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    2. Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude. – Zig Ziglar

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      3. The Man Who Has Confidence In Himself Gains The Confidence Of Others. – Hasidic Proverb

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        4. What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.– Napoleon Hill

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          5. For me, life is continuously being hungry. The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, to go up, to achieve, to conquer. – Arnold Schwarzenegger

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            6. What you seek is seeking you. – Rumi

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              7. It is never too late to be what you might have been. —George Eliot

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                8. Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once. —Drew Houston

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                  9. The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus. – Bruce Lee

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                    10. I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. – Thomas Jefferson

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                      11. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu

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                        12.The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. – Ayn Rand

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                          13. Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. – Mahatma Gandhi

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                            14. The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it. –  Jordan Belfort

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                              15. When you can’t change the direction of the wind, just adjust your sails. – H. Jackson Brown Jr

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                                16. Security Is Mostly A Superstition. Life Is Either A Daring Adventure Or Nothing. – Helen Keller

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                                  17. Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions. – Tony Robbins

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                                    18. We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret. – Earl Nightingale

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                                      19. Double down on whats working. Cut the rest. – Tai Lopez

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                                        20. The best revenge is massive success. – Frank Sinatra

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                                          21. Tough times never last, but tough people do. – Dr. Robert Schuller

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                                            22. Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion. Tony Hsieh

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                                              23. I’ve been blessed to find people who are smarter than I am, and they help me to execute the vision I have. – Russell Simmons

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                                                24. The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. – Benjamin Disraeli

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                                                  25. Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                    26. If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. – Jim Rohn

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                                                      27. People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do. – Rob Siltanen

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                                                        28. Poor people have big TVs. Rich people have a big library. – Jim Rohn

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                                                          29. A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship. – John D. Rockefeller

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                                                            30. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. – Walt Disney

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                                                              31. The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerburg

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                                                                32. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do that the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. – Mark Twain

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                                                                  33. Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.”– Jack Canfield

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                                                                    34. If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. – Malcolm X

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                                                                      35. Nobody ever wrote down a plan to be broke, fat, lazy. or stupid. Those things are what happen when you don’t have a plan. – Larry Winget

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                                                                        36. Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning. – Robert Kiyosaki

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                                                                          37. If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results. – Tony Robbins

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                                                                            38. Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly. – John F. Kennedy

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                                                                              39. Reading is to the mind, as exercise is to the body. – Brian Tracy

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                                                                                40. The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning; to create a product or service to make the world a better place. – Guy Kawasaki

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                                                                                  41.You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them. —Michael Jordan

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                                                                                    42. Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great. – John D. Rockefeller

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                                                                                      43. Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to success. – Dale Carnegie

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                                                                                        44. The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself. – Mark Caine

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                                                                                          45. Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago. —Warren Buffett

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                                                                                            46. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real, it is possible, it’s yours. – Ayr Rand

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                                                                                              47. If you are willing to do more than you are paid to do, eventually you will be paid to do more than you do. – Anonymous

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                                                                                                48. Make each day your masterpiece.  – John Wooden

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                                                                                                  49. You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

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                                                                                                    50. Knowing Is Not Enough; We Must Apply. Wishing Is Not Enough; We Must Do. – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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                                                                                                      51. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. – Jack Welch

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                                                                                                        52. People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy. – Tony Robbins

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                                                                                                          53. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. – Wayne Gretzky

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                                                                                                            54. You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. – Margaret Thatcher

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                                                                                                              55. If you want to make a permanent change, stop focusing on the size of your problems and start focusing on the size of you! – T. Harv Eker

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                                                                                                                56. Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment. – Stephen Covey

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                                                                                                                  57. Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picasso

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                                                                                                                    58 – Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment. – Oprah Winfrey

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                                                                                                                      59. I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine. – Neil Armstrong

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                                                                                                                        60. A goal is a dream with a deadline. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                                                                                          61.You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. – John C. Maxwell

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                                                                                                                            62. The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate. – Oprah Winfrey

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                                                                                                                              63. The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. – Mark Twain

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                                                                                                                                64. Accept responsibility for your life. Know that it is you who will get you where you want to go, no one else. – Les Brown

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                                                                                                                                  65. Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King

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                                                                                                                                    66. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success. – Joyce Brothers

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                                                                                                                                      67. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

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                                                                                                                                        68. If you’re not stubborn, you’ll give up on experiments too soon. And if you’re not flexible, you’ll pound your head against the wall and you won’t see a different solution to a problem you’re trying to solve. – Jeff Bezos

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                                                                                                                                          69. Imagine Your Life Is Perfect In Every Respect; What Would It Look Like? – Brian Tracy

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                                                                                                                                            70. First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. –  Mahatma Gandhi

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                                                                                                                                              71. Do one thing every day that scares you. – Eleanor Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                72. Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential. – John Maxwell

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                                                                                                                                                  73. It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop. – Confucius

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                                                                                                                                                    74. If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs. – Dhirubhai Ambani

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                                                                                                                                                      75. A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. – David Brinkley

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                                                                                                                                                        76. Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness. – Ayr Rand

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                                                                                                                                                          77. When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us. – Alexander Graham Bell

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                                                                                                                                                            78. Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. – Albert Einstein

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                                                                                                                                                              79. The number one reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors. – Napoleon Hill

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                                                                                                                                                                80. Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. – Eleanor Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                                  81. The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. – Franklin D. Roosevelt

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                                                                                                                                                                    82. If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary. – Jim Rohn

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                                                                                                                                                                      83. Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

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                                                                                                                                                                        84. The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it. – Henry David Thoreau

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                                                                                                                                                                          85. Take one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, and live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success that is the way great spiritual giants are produced. – Swami Vivekananda

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                                                                                                                                                                            86. Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

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                                                                                                                                                                              87. It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

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                                                                                                                                                                                88. Be so good they can’t ignore you. – Steve Martin

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                                                                                                                                                                                  89. If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward. – Martin Luther King Jr.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    90. In the end, we only regret the chance we didn’t take – Lewis Carroll

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                                                                                                                                                                                      91. Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world… if you do so, you are insulting yourself – Bill Gates

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                                                                                                                                                                                        92. Small daily improvements are the key to staggering long term results – Unknown

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                                                                                                                                                                                          93. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas Edison

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                                                                                                                                                                                            94. Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going – Jim Rohn

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                                                                                                                                                                                              95. The best way to predict the future is to create it – Peter Drucker

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                                                                                                                                                                                                96. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up. – Vince Lombardi

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  97. The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    98. Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today. – Will Rogers

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      99.You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character. – Unknown

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        100. Optimism is the one quality more associated with success and happiness than any other. – Brian Tracy

                                                                                                                                                                                                        lastone!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          You made it to the end! Are you feeling motivated? Awesome, now share this post with your friends to help them achieve success too.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          Featured photo credit: http://www.unusual-concepts.ru/ via unusual-concepts.ru

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