Many fall into the bad habit of using their inbox as a to-do list. This is an ineffective method to accomplish what is most important.
Think about it this way. Your inbox is a list of things that others want you to do. Not only that but they are not sorted by priority.
Instead of letting your Inbox totals rise into huge numbers, consider the possible goal of emptying your Inbox on a regular basis.
What's in your inbox?
Many have a bad inbox habits. Are there so many messages it's hard to distinguish between what's important and what's junk. Some use their inbox as a to-do list. It's an ineffective method to accomplish what is most important.
Think about it this way. Your inbox is a list of things that others want you to do. Not only that but it's not sorted by priority.
Your inbox may be out of control but it doesn't have to be. It's possible to empty it regularly. Want to know how?
Let's get started
Dedicate specific times each day to read and process your email.
Don't look every time a message arrives. It's a time drain that robs your productivity and focus. Turn off alerts that distract you. Instead, schedule a few blocks of time to check your inbox.
Mentally sort incoming e-mails into three categories:
- Junk: delete immediately and filter as "junk" to avoid them in the future.
- Action Required: respond immediately if can in two minutes or less. Delegate, if it’s not your responsibility. Sometimes messages require a longer response. Not enough time to answer now? Then schedule time on your calendar to follow-up. Set the sender's expectations with a one-line email saying when they'll receive more information.
- Reference: These messages don't require action but you may want the info in the future. Save them in a well-named folder for easy retrieval. These emails often comprise a large portion of your daily arrivals.
Create folders to file emails
After you read and process messages move them to a folder. Don't leave them in your inbox. This is key to keep it clear. Some like multiple folders to group messages by project or client. A simpler option – use one 'archive' folder and rely on the search feature to find what you need.
Define rules to keep secondary emails out of your inbox
Do you receive too many low-priority notices or promotions? Set up another e-mail account exclusively for those kinds of messages. Or create a "rule" to send those messages to their own separate folder. Both techniques keep the messages out of your inbox. Check the folder when you have time. Don't let low-level messages compete with important ones.
Subscribe to newsletters and other reference-type emails using your unique Evernote email address. They’re delivered directly to a dedicated notebook. Let Evernote the heavy lifting to keep my inbox under control.
It’s easy to forward messages to Evernote and delete from your inbox. That keeps your inbox lighter. The robust search within Evernote keeps everything at your fingertips.
Give some of these techniques a try. Have you found useful ways to manage your email? I’d love to hear about your challenges and solutions.