Is Your Inbox Running YOU?
It’s the start of the New Year! You’re ready to tackle it head-on ~ but when you crack open your email to hit the ground running, you’re greeted with a heart-stopping sight... 146 unread emails. That’ll stop you in your tracks!
Email is supposed to make our lives easier; but there’s something about it that can become overwhelming, especially when you “fall behind.” If you find yourself staring down the barrel at a cluttered inbox, follow along for some tips on how to make your email into a stress-saver instead of a heavyweight.
If you use email as a go-to communication platform, it can help keep things under control if you check your inbox regularly.
That’s not to say that you can’t take days off. It's important to disconnect every once in a while. However, if you know you’re going to check your email . . . say, at breakfast, lunch, and before dinner . . . you can make sure you don’t have too much piling up before the next day.
This can also help keep you from constantly refreshing your email throughout the day. If you know that the next time you will check your email is definitely in two hours, there’s not as much stress about when you will get to something.
Open Once and Deal:
In the “olden days,” you would have a stack of letters on one side of your desk under a paperweight; and when you addressed that matter, you would remove it from that pile and place it in the “addressed” pile on the other side of your desk. This seems a bit antiquated now, but there’s no denying that there was a clear distinction of where things belong!
It’s easy to get in the habit of opening emails, skimming them, and then leaving them to address later. This can lead to things slipping through the cracks.
It’s a far better practice to address an email as soon as you open it. Read it and either respond if it requires action or file it away. If you really need to put it off to address later, mark it back to “unread” so you can’t ignore it. Then, when the time comes, repeat the process (but really do it this time! You can’t keep putting it off!).
This leads into my next point….
Have A Good Filing System:
I like to have folders in my inbox so that things are not just sitting out in the open. The only things sitting in my inbox should be the few things that still require my attention. When things have been addressed, it feels good to put them in their “spot.” If you need to find something again in the future, this is also helpful for future reference!
Set Some Filters:
No, not Instagram filters.
Setting a filter on an email is similar to creating folders, except the filter takes action before you get into your inbox!
The way it works is to set up filters so that certain emails are sent directly to the folder instead of the inbox. For example, if you subscribe to a friend's newsletter, or you get daily updates from a certain email, you can create a filter for that so that these regulated messages don't clutter up your general "actionable" inbox.
Then, when you have some free time, you can pop into your Newsletter or "Friend" folder and take a look!
If You're Really Too Busy...
There’s no shame in asking for help! There are plenty of services that offer email support and management.
Assistants4Hire, for example, offers email management! I personally have worked with many clients on their inboxes, both organizing and managing. Let me take on the mental load of keeping your inbox neat and clean. You can then focus all your attention on the important stuff you love to do! This way, you can once again run your inbox rather than your inbox running YOU!
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Written by Jordan McAndrew