Is your email inbox a disorganized mess? If so, you’re not alone. Most people struggle to keep up with the daily influx of email messages. Here are some strategies to get you on track.
Start with an empty in box
The email inbox is meant to be a place to handle those items that need a response within a day or so, not a place to store hundreds (or even thousands) of unread messages. A full inbox does not let you prioritize what is important. Just like an organized workspace will make you feel in control, the same applies to an empty inbox. It’s an immediate psychological boost! If you are behind in handling your email, create a folder (or tag depending upon the system you use) and move all of the aged emails out of the inbox. Set aside 15 minutes a day to tackle the old email backlog until you are caught up and work your email daily trying to maintain what’s current.
Create descriptive folders and/or labels to keep organized
To help with retrieval of information and to be more efficient, it is critical to organize your email using folders and/or tags. It’s well worth the time investment. How much time do you spend looking for a specific email? A little time upfront can save hours later.
Process emails in batches and at set times
A simple way to increase productivity is to turn off email notifications and process email in batches. Schedule time twice or more if necessary daily to review and process email with the goal of getting your inbox to zero or a manageable number. Doing so will allow you to spend your day on productive tasks without interruptions.
Read email and reply right away
Some people read all of their email first before responding to any of them. This is ineffective for several reasons. Most likely, you’ll have to read them all again to be able to craft a respond. It’s better to quickly scan and determine if there are email messages that are critical and respond to those right away. If they’re not, respond when you’re answering email in batches at times of the day you determine work best for your schedule.
Keep emails short and concise
Make it a habit of using only necessary words and sentences. Not everything warrants a response. Use paragraphs and bullets as they are much easier for the receiver to read.