As much as I try to fight it, there’s no getting away from email. So instead of fighting it, I’ve learn to accept it as part of my daily routine and make it work for me. Over the years I’ve picked up some tips and tricks that I live by to keep my email organized.
I have several folders created within my inbox, but there’s 3 that really help me to stay organized. 1) Waiting to hear back: I bcc myself on emails that I really need a response from others on and then move it to this folder. If you don’t bcc yourself on the email, you can simply dig these out of your sent folder. 2) To do next week: I check this folder every Sunday and follow up as needed. These are emails that aren’t urgent and/or will take a while to respond to. If I know an email isn’t going to get responded to this week, I like being able to move it out of my inbox. 3) Confirmations: including flight confirmations, Amazon orders, etc.
Filter, Filter, Filter
As a Gmail user, I use the Promotions & Social filters religiously! If you receive an email that isn’t worthy of going straight to your inbox, but instead is more of a Promotion or Social (think Facebook notification emails), simply drag it over to the Promotion or Social tab and click “yes” to the ‘do this action next time’ pop up.
The 2 Minute Rule
The two-minute rule can really apply to any task you have, including emails. If it can be done in 2 minutes, do it now! It will get off your mind and out of your inbox. Otherwise you’ll likely spend MORE than 2 minutes on the email every time you open your inbox and see that email sitting there. Most emails can be answered in five sentences or less so there’s no reason not to tackle!
Years ago I read somewhere that the average person checks their email before brushing their teeth in the morning. I thought that sounded ridiculous until I realized that I did that EVERY day! I’m also guilty of being in the car as a passenger or even standing in line at the grocery store while checking email with no intention of replying right then. STOP THIS! It’s wasted time if you’re not able to do anything about the email you’re reading. Yes, I realize some of us have jobs where we need to be reading email at all times, but unless you’re one of those people, grocery line email checking is probably not productive!
Instead, schedule times in your day where you’re going to focus on email. Even if that means 10 minutes every hour to start off with. I started off scheduling 10 times a day (yes 10!) and then was able to move down to 3 specific times a day where I’m focusing on reading & responding to new incoming email.
Turn OFF Notifications
My phone (and ipad) used to light up every time I received a new email and of course I would jump to read it. I’d see the email popup on my ipad while Joe & I were watching TV and spend the entire time wondering what the email was about instead of watching the show. What a waste! Now this is an obvious tip, but turn OFF all those notifications. I don’t even want to know if I have new messages until I actually go into my email account.
The last step for organizing your email should be to unsubscribe from emails you don’t want to see. I used to simply delete the emails instead of taking the 30 seconds (or less!) to unsubscribe. I always worried that maybe sometime I’d miss a future email that I really wanted so I wouldn’t unsubscribe. I changed my tune and strongly believe in getting OFF the email lists that are not benefiting you. Yes, you could always just delete the emails when they come to your inbox, but wouldn’t it be nice if you never received them in the first place?
May you all see an EMPTY inbox!