Know someone who loses emails in the depths of their inbox and forgets to reply to important issues? Frustrated because you sometimes lose emails and forget to reply? Do you ever complain because you get too many emails? If you drive carefully through the below steps today, the world will be a better place tomorrow.
1. ONE RECEIVED MAIL FOLDER IS ALL YOU NEED
Searching one folder is incredibly more efficient than searching multiple folders. I’ve seen people who setup an individual received mail folder for each of their co-workers or family members or customers. Why? Perhaps in the early 90’s searching a folder could take forever, but these days, it takes a few seconds to search and retrieve what you’re looking for from a single folder. With many programs, such as Gmail, you can add labels to your incoming messages, which can be an added layer of search. But no matter which email program you use, have one folder for all received mail and use the search function when you need to find something.
2. CLEANUP OLD EMAILS
The next step to becoming an organized email user is to cleanup and archive old emails. I tend to save everything unless it’s 100% junk or has a file attachment above 1MB. So first, scan through and delete that 8MB video that your mom sent you two years ago from her new iPhone; save it to your hard drive instead. Next, if you use a program like Outlook, use the archive function to move old received emails to an archived state. They can still be easily searched and retrieved.
3. KNOCK OUT THE QUICKIES
Moving away from structure and into procedure: whether you get ten emails per day or two hundred email per day, always knock out those requiring a quick reply first, at least to the point where you’re not ignoring incoming emails for more than 24-hours. This same strategy is used on important tests and is useful in terms of both first reactions and productivity. Blast ‘em out and then tackle the others.
4. INCLUDE ALL DETAILS TO AVOID UNNECESSARY EMAILS
We wouldn’t have so much email clutter in the first place if people did a better job of this. Do you know that person who often sends one liners that are lacking in clarity and require you to send and receive more emails? Now both of you are losing your valuable time! When you send an email, think carefully about what information the recipient might need. Perhaps they are working on something else and their mind may not be flowing with the details you told them yesterday in the washroom. Be complete, yet succinct. And don’t include people who don’t need to be included!
5. KEEP YOUR INBOX EMPTY
The #1 reason that so many people get behind and lose emails is because their inbox overflows like my oatmeal bowl when I put it in the microwave for too long. Begin to think of your inbox as a To-Do List and nothing more. If an email is in your inbox, it’s waiting for action. If you receive an email and it gives you the information you need, move it to your [one] received mail folder. If you receive an email and it requires action, reply completely and then move it to your received mail folder. But maybe an email in your inbox requires some research before you can reply? These are the only items that should be in your inbox and, once you reply, it should be moved out. The goal is to keep your inbox empty.
PHOTO CREDIT: lifementalhealthpics
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