Taming Your Inbox

If you’re anything like me, you get too many emails each and every day. The flow of email can be overwhelming. More than that, sorting through all your email each day can be a major consumer of time. More than once I’ve sat down at my computer in the morning and begun my day churning through the inbox, only to look up and discover that hours have passed by.

Adopting some basic strategies towards email can help you tame your inbox. Here are just a few ideas:

  1. Set time for email. Don’t let email drive your day. Instead, set specific times of the day that you will address your email, and limit those times to whatever is reasonable for your work. I find a couple hours a day is generally sufficient to keep on top of my emails. Keeping that time limit in mind helps me focus through the fluff.
  2. Unsubscribe! Do you really need to read that email list? Get off as many email lists and marketing campaigns as you can. Think of your inbox as a sacred space for critical communications. If it isn’t really important, don’t let it in there!
  3. Discipline your inbox to be empty. Take time each week to clear out all of your emails. I know, it sounds crazy, but it can be truly liberating. When you know that you have managed all of your emails then you can really focus on what needs to be done. Keeping an email archive is a nice way to have a “safety net” should you need to find something later. Otherwise, respond to emails, assign them to a to do list or delegate them away.
  4. Filter the spam. Using a spam filter will really help you keep out the junk mail. Online services, like gMail, do a great job of filtering the email before it ever gets to you. But if you use a desktop client, there are several great spam filtering tools. Many email clients have them built in. Make sure they are on!
  5. Use the phone. Remember that email isn’t the best tool for all communications. Sometimes, picking up the phone or having a face-to-face meeting is the best way to go. In fact, sometimes a phone call is even faster than email. Don’t default to email just because it’s easier. If the message merits a phone call, make the call.

Taming your inbox isn’t easy, but it is possible. A few basic disciplines and some technology can really help you use email, instead of email using you. Contact us now for all of your email needs.

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