According to workers across the country, reading and answering emails can be one of the most time-consuming tasks at work, but you don’t have to get overwhelmed. Here are some tips and tricks to getting your inbox organized and keeping it that way.
Get to know your email program
Whether using Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, or another client, your email program probably has a wealth of features that you haven’t explored. If you have been putting off learning how to properly manage your email settings you could be throwing away a lot of time-saving knowledge. Play with the program or look up features online so you are prepared to archive, sort, and reroute your emails to best advantage. If you aren’t using your email’s search function this is one of the most important tools for finding the messages you need without spending time manually searching folders.
Turn off notifications
The key to an organized inbox is not to deal with each incoming message immediately. Constant notifications of incoming emails are a distraction that can keep you from focusing on higher-priority tasks. Deal with your emails in batches throughout the day between other tasks and it will be easier to sort more messages in less time. This delay also helps create perspective as it can take time to determine the actual importance of a task.
Get less mail
The first challenge of streamlining your inbox is to stay on top of the messages coming in. Any email subscription that you don’t read should never reach your inbox- it might seem easier to delete these as they come, but by law every newsletter comes with an Unsubscribe button and you should make use of it. If you read the emails occasionally but would prefer them not littering your inbox, you can filter them to a separate folder or use a RSS feed for these updates instead.
If your inbox is often cluttered with short correspondences that could have been dealt with by phone or text message, you are making more work for yourself. Send and receive fewer emails by being very clear and concise in your messages so that followup discussions aren’t needed. Your coworkers will also thank you!
Filter and sort
Organizing your email is a matter of personal preference with many solutions, and you should consider what system will best suit the types of messages you receive and how you work. Most experts agree, however, that any email that can be dealt with in under two minutes should be tackled first, which keeps easy tasks from cluttering your to-do list. This also gets you into the flow of answering emails so you are ready for more challenging items. Then, sort the remaining messages according to how important the task is and when the response is due. Color coding or daily to-do folders are two suggestions for sorting, or set up reminders for messages you want to read later. Most of these systems can be automated for future messages as well. The goal is to keep all of your mail sorted so you never spend time reading, responding, or searching through any message you don’t have to.
Read more about these tips and discover more email organization tips from these sources: