Anyone else having serious inbox woes at the moment?
With the busy start to this fall, my email inboxes are in a state of chaos with several starred emails from friends requiring my attention, saved travel-related emails, vendor newsletters and email subscriptions languishing unopened for weeks, and, unfortunately, spam emails that are mixed among it all. But I’m going to take back my email inbox — and attempt to reach inbox zero — and you can too. All we need to do is set aside an afternoon to dedicate to cleaning and organizing our inbox. And to keep the newly cleaned inbox clean, we can instate a few rules that will make our lives much easier.
1. Use folders
Folders are awesome at the office, on the computer, and for emails. Basically, they are an organized woman’s secret weapon. Organizing both read and unread emails into different folders based on their topics is a great way to dedicate attention to one matter at a time, especially if you use the same email address for work, subscriptions, and personal emails. Folders that I’ve created and use frequently are for travel, work by client, personal, subscriptions, and other. This means that during work hours, I can sort by client for a relevant email, or before a trip, I can easily find my flight itinerary and accommodation information.
2. Don't open it until you have time to reply
This is where my own email inbox woes lie, as I often read an email and tell myself I’ll respond later when I have more time, resulting in slow responses to friends and family. Instead, opening emails when you have time to write a thoughtful response actually saves time and helps you to respond promptly.
3. Set specific times to check
Having your email inbox open all day can be extremely distracting, taking your attention away from other important tasks at hand. Limit checking your email to two or three times per day and I bet you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done. I like to check my email in the morning after school drop off, answering important emails straight away; right before lunch, simply scanning for anything urgent; and before signing off work for the day, to read and answer everything else.
4. Use out of office email autoresponders
If you know you’ll be away from your computer for an afternoon, day, or week but feel anxious about not being able to reply to emails, consider setting up an email autoresponder. This will let clients and family alike know that you are away and unable to answer emails. Then when you return to your desk, be sure to allot enough time to answer all of the awaiting emails.
5. Turn off notifications
Notifications for emails (and social media) are even more distracting than frequent email inbox checking. Switch email notifications off, so you’ll have more time to focus on other work that needs to get done.
I receive an uncountable number of newsletters that I’ve subscribed for, spam, and store emails (especially when there is a promotion or sale on) per day. Some of these I really want to read, but when my email gets so swamped by everything else, it can be too tempting to just delete all. Instead, I’ve been clicking the unsubscribe button on all of those pesky spam ewsletters that have somehow found their way to my inbox. Then, I’ll actually be able to open the emails from brands, blogs, and stores that I want to receive.