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Does your email inbox contain every email you have ever received? Even those spammy ones that you never read from the electrical retailer that you visited once in 2007 and never visited again?

Have you started a system of folders to manage your Inbox and then given up in frustration because you can’t remember which file you put things into?

Can you actually find what you are looking for within 30 seconds of starting a search? Or do you spend hours combing through your Inbox looking for that email you were sure you had the other day?

If these scenarios resonate with you then these simple tips will help you. I know you don’t have time for a complicated filing routine. You just want it all to be sorted. And stay sorted. With these simple tips you will be well on your way to a lovely tidy Inbox.

Unsubscribe from things you never read. All emails should have an unsubscribe button on them.

Move the things that are informative, and you think you might want to read later, to a separate folder. You can do this automatically in both Outlook and Gmail by setting up rules for things like company notices and reports from your analytics software. You can then review the folder you send it to once a week and move anything you want to keep to the correct permanent folder.

Create folders that make sense to you and when your work has been completed on that email, file it in the correct folder right away. It honestly does save time if you put things where the belong in the first place.

One option is to have an “Action” folder into which you put all the items you need to deal with. You can then go to that one folder once a day and deal with it all at once, moving the emails when finished to their final location in your folder system. However, you have to be very disciplined about getting into the habit of checking the folder daily as it can have an element of “out of sight, out of mind” about it.

Only review your email inbox at set times during the day. Three times a day is absolutely fine. If something is “hair on fire urgent”, the client will ring you up.

Using the Getting Things Done approach to guide this initial review, if the email will take you less than 2 minutes to read and action, just do it there and then. If it needs a more considered response, flag it or colour code it and deal with it at the time you have set aside for this task every day. If the email opens up some sort of can of worms or needs a really detailed response, and will be time consuming to deal with, perhaps taking 20 minutes or more, you can add the task to your To Do list so that it becomes a task of its own.

Colour coding and stars are not just for the classroom. You can colour code emails in both Outlook and Gmail to show the priority you have allocated to them during your initial review. This allows you to deal with emails quickly and in the right order of priority when you do sit down to tackle them. Using an agreed colour coding system is also a great way to work collaboratively within a shared inbox so that two people don’t end up answering the same email.

Most people have a dip in energy levels after lunch so a spot of routine email answering is a great use of that time rather than trying to struggle with more complex tasks.

If you get distracted by those notifications that ping up every time an email comes in, and you find you can’t ignore them, you can disable the notifications entirely.

If you have tried these tips and are still struggling, why not outsource your Inbox management. I can help with routine emails and booking in appointments.

If you have a system but it isn’t working for you I can help you to tweak it to work more effectively. And if you have eleventy billion emails and no system, I can help with that as well, setting up a new system, organising all those emails into that system, and giving you control over your emails once more.

To access help and support with your email systems, get in touch for a free consultation.

SOURCE: JJB Office Services


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