Want to spend less time emailing and more time achieving? Here’s how to better manage your inbox to do just that. By Kayla Matthews (Productivity Writer)
Emails are constantly rolling in. If not managed expertly, one’s inbox can quickly become overwhelming.
Even in the most connected job roles, however, it’s not hard to keep all those emails in line. Adopting a few efficiency-boosting practices can help increase productivity and eliminate inbox-related stress.
1. Adopt an Organization System
Create different files for your various types of emails: Important Personal, Important Work and Read Later, for instance. Label your folders to boost efficiency and set up filters to help you stay on top of it all.
You can activate filters in Gmail, for example, that will put emails from certain organizations in their designated places (e.g. “Read Later”). Go into “Settings” to access your filter and labeling options.
2. Don’t Over-Compartmentalize
While filing is a great way to organize, creating too many folders makes things confusing. Limit your number of files to three or four. Anything more than that and you’ll waste time searching for items.
3. Activate Notifications
Many people argue that you should shut off notifications to eliminate distractions. If you can commit to immediately filing your emails, or deleting them if you know you won’t read them, however, turn your notifications on.
This will not only alert you to potential attend-to-this-now occurrences but it will also save you time during your “Review Email” time (see #4).
4. Designate a Daily “Review Email” Time
You have your notifications on and have been organizing your emails throughout the day. Dedicate a particular time each day to actually sift through, read and respond to those that weren’t initially addressed.
Focus only on reading, responding and deleting your emails during this time so you don’t risk skipping anything.
5. Respond Immediately
With your notifications turned on, you can see right away when you’ve received an urgent email or one from an important person. Under these circumstances, reply immediately. Waiting only increases your chances of forgetting to respond and missing out on potential opportunities.
If you’re not reading any emails from a particular organization, unsubscribe from the mailing list. Some companies send out multiple emails a day. If not being read, these only clog up your inbox and waste your time.
Take the ten seconds to cut ties. “Unsubscribe” options often lie at the end of the email body. Plus, if you regret this later, you can always sign yourself back up.
7. Conduct Weekly Sweeps
At the end of each week, conduct a serious inbox cleanout. What you haven’t deleted during the week, but you’ve found aren’t needed, should be disposed of at the end of the week.
Don’t keep hold of emails you’ll never read. Don’t be an email hoarder. Clean out confidently.
8. Conduct Annual Sweeps
What’s important today might not be important a year from now. Maybe you’re holding onto emails related to a current project, office event or timely personal matter. Twelve months (or maybe sooner) down the road, look back and clean out emails that are no longer important to you.
9. Move Items to Computer Files
You might be saving emails in your inbox because you need the attachment or you see potential usefulness in the future. Rather than store these things in your ever-filling inbox, put them in easy-to-find computer folders. You’ll still have the information saved and available, but they won’t be taking up valuable inbox space.
As you can see, being inbox efficient doesn’t have to be difficult. Putting forth these simple practices will boost your productivity, decrease stress and make your conversations more accessible. Get organized today to enjoy the many benefits.
What are your strategies for managing the time you spend on emails?
Photo credit: TACstock1 via Shutterstock.
About the guest blogger: Kayla Matthews is a workplace productivity writer who relishes organization and a positive attitude. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter to check out her latest posts, or find her at ProductivityBytes.com.