I’m pretty sure you’ve been there. You open your email and you have 1000+ emails and you wonder where did I go wrong. There are 4 ways to ensure your inbox does not get out of hand.
1. Schedule time everyday to clear your inbox.
I schedule 30 minutes at the end of every workday to make sure my inbox has zero unread messages before I leave. Doing this keeps your email at a manageable level at all times.
2. Use Rules.
Using rules can help weed out some of your less important emails that do not have to be attended to right away. I have a rule that will move all emails that I am CC’d on to a “CC’d” folder. Usually emails that I am CC’d on do not require any actionable items for me so they are moved to this folder automatically and I can check them when I have adequate time.
3. Have very minimal folder management.
I have three folders: Inbox, Processed Mail, and CC’d. All my emails except for the exceptions for rules go to my Inbox. After I read and process the email I immediately move it to the “Processed Mail” folder. Using named folders can get very confusing and it can be hard to find emails. I use the search function to find an email in the Processed Mail folder.
4. Use the four D’s.
If an email can be processed and answered within two minutes, “DO” it. Just answer the email and move on. If it cannot be processed within two minutes do one of two things, either delegate or defer the email. If someone else in your organization can complete the task because they are a subject matter expert then “DELEGATE” it. No reason to reinvent the wheel. If you have to answer the email but cannot complete within two minutes then “DEFER” it and move it to processed mail and flag it for future access. If the email is of no importance then “DELETE” it. No need in keeping emails you don’t need, even in the processed folder.
Hopefully these tips will help you stay on top of your email so you can be more productive. Please leave a comment below if you have anything to add that could benefit others.
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