Are you bothered by an overflowing email inbox? Many people are overwhelmed by too much e-mail that is unread, unsorted and chaotic. The organizational system of your email inbox should be as unique as you are. The way you arrange your email depends on your learning style, the way you process information, and of the type and number of emails you are working with. Here are 4 ways to streamline your e-mail processing.
Think about the big categories of email information you receive. Create inbox folders based on these categories. Remember folders are called “labels” in gmail and “mailboxes” in Outlook & Apple mail. Don’t make too may folders at first, start with general categories, and if that works well, you can create more.
For example, for a business, you may want broad categories like “Finance,” “Vendors,” “Clients,” & “Marketing”. For a home email, you may want categories like “Bills to Pay,” “School Information,” “Family,” & “Volunteer Activities”.
When deciding where to store an e-mail, and whether not to keep it, first ask yourself, “Am I going to reference this in the future?” If so, “What folder is most appropriate?”
2. Filters & Rules
Take advantage of the filters and rules available through your email client. When messages come into your inbox, they eat up your time, so by establishing filters and rules, you will save time checking, deleting and moving email messages around. For example, if you receive many ads or coupons from stores, create an “Ads” folder and then set up rules to send all email from those vendors directly to the “Ads” folder. This rule will keep your inbox clear, and then you can check that folder when you’re ready to shop.
Unsubscribe from as many email ads, newsletters and other information that you do not need regularly to help clear your inbox. You may want to try the service unroll.me to quickly unsubscribe from many automated messages.
4. Follow Through and Maintain
Email is a huge time waster, many people are checking it multiple times an hour, responding haphazardly, and having it interrupt the flow of their day. Schedule your email reply time, rather than “putting out fires” every time a message comes in. Set up 2 or 3 times a day where you will read and reply to messages. Use a timer to help keep you on task, and to help you realize how much time emails are really costing you.