Email Management: Finally the Cure to Inbox Clutter!

Is your email in-box a productivity tool or an energy drain?

This tool that is supposed to make paper obsolete and increase our productivity by speeding up contact has actually been cited as taking 20-30% of employees’ time.

Manage Your Email to Give You More TimeAre we sure that is a sign of increased productivity?

But, just knowing it doesn’t mean you will be able to tame the email monster.  So how can we do it?

Create an Email Management System

Like the foundation for any success, you need a system.

1. Separate In-boxes

Do all of your emails come to one address? This is a recipe for overwhelm.

You should have at least 2 email addresses. One for work and one for play. And do not mix the two – it absolutely reduces productivity.

But on the flip side, you do not want too many email addresses either. The more you have, the more confusing and likely to miss something important.

If you do need to have several (such as one for each domain you own) then forward them into one account.

2. Empty Your Inbox Daily

Is it stressful to look at a desk piled with papers?

Well, just like seeing your paper overload leads to a similar feeling, having an overloaded email inbox will result in the same condition.

I have a rule with paper, if I touch it I deal with it.

You need the same rule with email. If it is opened then answer immediately, forward them to an assistant or funnel it into a specific folder.

Make sure your work email is emptied daily. You may or may not do the same with your other emails, but you do want to have a schedule in which you DO empty them. Otherwise it WILL become overwhelming.

3. Set up Folders and Filters

Set up your folders in a way that makes sense to you. They can be archives (where you keep all emails of the same subject until they are no longer needed) or set up to be dealt with at future, but scheduled, time (e.g. you have a files set up for particular days of the week that you will deal them – like a tickler file).

You can also set up a filter that archives emails that haven’t been read within a specific amount of time. This will clear your inbox for you, but without deleting them.

4. Determine YOUR System For Communicating

You want to develop a system for communicating and then train yourself and others to use that consistently.

For example, if you are working with a group of people on a particular project, train them to email you with the project name in the subject line.

You could also set up a system of numbers (1=Priority, 2=Within a Few Days, 3=Within the Week, 4=When You Can Get to It) and train people to use the appropriate number to automatically tell you what kind of answer they need.

5. Determine YOUR Best Time

Will you deal with your email first thing in the morning or at the end of the day?

If you know that you will be tempted to spend (also known as waste) time if you look first thing, then don’t even open it until 30-45 minutes before you are scheduled to leave.

I will all but guarantee you will not be as tempted to waste time when you are looking forward to getting home!

Set a particular block of time to deal with emails as above and set your timer. Move all emails into folders that you can (without opening) then go through the rest quickly and deal with them immediately.

How to Keep Email From Leaking Your Productivity

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Email Management: Finally the Cure to Inbox Clutter!
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