Are you overwhelmed by the number of emails in your inbox? Do you have trouble managing them? Then read this article to learn how to keep your inbox clean!
You have probably received hundreds of emails over the course of your life. But did you know that managing them effectively could be one of the most important tasks on your list?
Email management is an essential part of any business and is an important part of staying organised. It helps you stay on top of things and avoid missing important messages.
Being constantly overwhelmed by the number of emails we receive on a daily basis makes us less productive.
Keeping on top of your inbox can be a time consuming task.
Getting more structured and organised with how you manage your emails can only make life easier for you, giving you time to focus on the important stuff.
Here are some tips on how to stay on top of your inbox:
Diary Time Into Your Calendar To Check and Process Your Emails
On average people spend over 3 hours per day checking work email. (Source Finance online.com)
Emails cause a lot of stress and people often worry about how many are in their inboxes so keep checking meaning they don’t get the tasks done that they should be doing.
Block out specific times to check your emails. You could for instance do this twice per day, say at the start and end of your day. Turn off all distractions and stay focused.
In the book The 4 Hour Work Week Time Ferriss discusses the use of an email template.
“Due to high workload, I am currently checking and responding to email twice daily at 12:00 pm ET [or your time zone] and 4:00 pm ET. If you require urgent assistance (please ensure it is urgent) that cannot wait until either 12:00 pm or 4:00 pm, please contact me via phone at XXX-XXX-XXXX.”
Remember if someone has an urgent query to raise with you then there is always the phone!!
Organise Emails Using Folders, Labels and Categories
Organising your emails means you can find them quickly if you need to refer back to them. Categorising your emails can help for example you may have a Marketing folder and then within that create subfolders for e.g. social media, website, newsletters
In Gmail, you would create labels which are basically folders.
There is no standard way to do this it just depends on the type of emails you receive and what will work best for you.
Once You Look At An Email Take Action. Don’t Revisit It!
Using this principle you touch it once, take action, then file it or delete it and move to the next email. Revisiting emails is a waste of your time. Let’s get your inbox clean!
The 2 Minute Rule
This method will help you to stay efficient at managing your emails.
If it will take less than 2 minutes to reply to or deal with the email then action it straight away. You’ll soon have a clean inbox.
The 2 minute rule was introduced by David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done.
The 4D Method
Introduced by Microsoft the 4D method was designed to help you make quick decisions on what to do with an email.
Every time you receive an email do one of the following:
Delete it, Do it, Delegate it, Defer it
Ask yourself these questions to help you to decide whether to delete an email:
👉Does the email contain information relating to your job/what you do? If the answer is no delete
👉Could you easily find the information somewhere else e.g. in a formal document or by Googling it? If the answer is yes delete
👉Will you need the information in the next 6 months? If the answer is yes delete
If you can action the email in less than 2 minutes – Do it
If it’s not practical to work on the email now or delete it consider delegating it. Use the 70% rule. If the person you want to assign the job to is able to do it at least 70% as well as you delegate it. E.g. mundane tasks, something you aren’t great at or don’t like doing,
If you can’t delete the email, you can’t complete it in 2 minutes and only you can deal with it then you will defer it.
Be sure to set aside time in your calendar to deal with the email.
Start following the 4 D Method and you’ll soon be on your way to a clean inbox!!
Use the 3 strike rule. If you are bombarded with newsletters and promotional emails you’ve signed up to your inbox will be inundated. If these are no longer of value to you, after you’ve deleted an email about a certain product/service or information from a specific sender 3 times because you aren’t reading it unsubscribe.
Check your junk mail folder on a regular basis to ensure there is nothing of importance in there and then delete all.
Writing a different reply to every email is very time consuming. If you find you
keep sending the same response time and time again then create an email template. For instance, if you have frequently asked questions that get the same reply. Setting us a pre-written email can save lots of time and you can tweak it if necessary.
These can be kept in your drafts so you can easily reuse them or you may have a facility to create them in your email settings.
Turn Off Email Notifications
If you manage your emails using specific blocks of time throughout your day you won’t miss any emails therefore it’s unnecessary to be constantly reminded you’ve just received an email as this can be very distracting
Use Rules and Filters
Using rules and filters will help with organising your emails by moving emails directly into a specific folder. This could be an email from a specific sender or about a certain subject. This can also make sure that junk email goes straight into your junk folder
By being consistent and building a structure for managing your emails you will soon see how effective this can be at organising and getting your inbox clean.
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