Is your email inbox overwhelming? To help you in your quest for an organized and clutter-free inbox, let’s explore three different tactics that helped others take control of email.
Don’t babysit your inbox.
This email management tip is from Jesse Petersen of Petersen Media Group. When Petersen checked his email constantly or always had the window open, he noticed that he would not do things that he needed or wanted to get done – those things that were important to him or his business.
After changing his habits and dealing with his email only a few times each day, he says, “I no longer go to bed with remorse that I didn’t touch a piece of code or go for my walk (because someone’s e-mail persuaded my sense of duty to go straight to my desk).”
Petersen’s bottom line: Don’t let email run your life.
How do you implement this? Start by turning off email notifications on your phone, tablet, and computer. Also, alert your colleagues that you will no longer be instantly replying to emails. If it’s urgent, then tell them that you now expect a phone call.
Decide what you’re going to do.
Spark Productivity founder Jan Wencel recommends taking action after reading an email, doing one of the four 4 D’s:
- Delete. Depending on the situation, you may want to unsubscribe first.
- Delegate. If someone else can or should handle the task, get it to the right person.
- Deposit. If the email doesn’t require a follow-up, put it in the appropriate folder so you can reference it later.
- Do (or add to to-do list). Wencel says if you can get the task done if less than two minutes, do it. If not, then add it to your list of things to do and delete/deposit the email for future reference.
Marking things as unread after reading them without taking action can lead to delaying a task or even forgetting it.
Not only will taking appropriate action after opening an email keep all projects moving forward but it will also keep your inbox cleaner, making it less intimidating.
Decrease incoming mail.
You might skeptical about this email management tidbit, but you can do a few things to cut back the number of emails you get.
First off, be proactive by simply not sending unnecessary emails. Then you won’t get any unnecessary responses.
Taking it a step further, even though you can’t control others’ habits, signal to recipients that you don’t expect a reply in certain cases with your word choice. Melissa Schmalenberger of I Did it with Ms. Simplicity recommends using language like “no need to reply” or “for your information.”
By doing this, you’re not only saving your time but the receiver’s time as well. Hopefully they will not feel obligated to respond, since you were upfront with your expectations. Who knows – they might even adopt your email approach.
Lastly, you can ask to be removed from certain chains. If someone CCs you on a group email that you have no interest in, then politely request for him or her to not include you next time and ask to be removed from the current flurry of emails going back and forth.
What email management tips have you found helpful?