Do you feel overwhelmed when you look at your inbox each day? Email is a popular and effective way of communicating, but keeping it all managed has become one more chore on our ever-growing “to do” list.
Email often feels more urgent than other forms of communication, such as voicemail. This is why many of us feel the need to constantly check emails and respond to them quickly. In addition, a cluttered inbox can leave you feeling out of control and unproductive. So follow these easy tips and get control of your inbox again.
TIPS FOR BETTER EMAIL MANAGEMENT:
Respond quickly to time-sensitive items, but plan time each day to tackle non-critical emails. As tempting as it is now that most of us have smartphones, don’t check your email every five minutes — this takes a toll on your concentration and attention. When you do check your email, respond quickly to items that are obviously time-sensitive. Then set aside time each day to answer the non-critical emails.
Be liberal with the delete button.
Don’t feel guilty for deleting emails that don’t serve you. Emails from strangers, sales and promotional emails, even emails that you know you’re never going to respond to — delete them with abandon.
Keep your own email responses short.
One of the wonderful things about email is that you can control how much time you spend responding to people. Unlike being on the phone, where ending a conversation can be awkward, you have control over the length of the conversation.
Use labels and folders.
Using labels and filing emails into folders can instantly cut the clutter that is filling up your inbox. Create labels for emails that regularly take up space in your inbox and file them away immediately. They’ll be easy to find later on, and meanwhile they won’t create chaos in your inbox. Many email programs even have auto-labeling and filtering options you can use to file away emails automatically.
Templatize your responses.
This is a great time-saver for work-related emails, but also works well for some types of personal emails. If you find you are getting the same questions or requests frequently, create a template for your response — this is also known as a “canned response.”
When the Problem Is Email Addiction
Sometimes successful inbox management needs to start with an attitude adjustment. Even though email may feel urgent, most of the time it isn’t. Remember, if someone needs to reach you in an emergency, they will pick up the phone. Anything that is not an emergency can wait.
“Inbox zero” is a popular concept right now, but the challenge of completely emptying your inbox each day can be unrealistic for many of us. Rather than stressing about getting your inbox down to zero emails, focus on managing your email better overall.
Close your email program.
Whether you’re on your smartphone or your desktop PC, keep the email program or app closed until your planned email check-in times. If you still feel compelled to check emails constantly, you can turn off your Internet connection or use an app like Inbox Pause.
Turn off your email alerts, sound effects, pop-ups, and other reminders. These are constant distractions and can make you feel like you “need” to see what just came in.