Are you overwhelmed by your email?  If you are, then you are in good company.  Almost all of my clients are stressed out by their inbox.  The GOOD NEWS is that there are 9 quick and simple things you can do to get in control and get there quickly!  How would you feel if you opened your email every day and felt like it was manageable?  It would feel FABULOUS, wouldn’t it?  Well, here’s how.

  1. Archive all of your old emails and start fresh, today! Create a new folder called “Archive” or something similar and move all of your old emails into this folder and then leave it alone.  If you really need something that is in there, you can always go look.  By doing this, you will be starting with a clean slate from today forward.  You can create new habits and develop a new strategy without having all of that old clutter weighing you down.
  2. You should have no more than 2 inboxes, one for business and one for personal use.Keep them separated.  If you have opened multiple emails because you exceeded your inbox limits, archive them all and get rid of the extra accounts.
  3. Schedule specific times ON YOUR CALENDAR to deal with email. Typically, 2 times per day should be sufficient.  How much time for each session will depend upon your business.  Dedicate this time to email and avoid interruptions.  Turn off your phone, close your door and don’t accept appointments or other interruptions.  With a little practice, you will soon learn how much time it really takes you to go through your email and you will do it much more efficiently without interruptions.
  4. Turn off email (and other) notifications on your devices. At best, these are distractions that interrupt the work at hand and at worst, they sucker you into checking your email (or social media).  Every time you get distracted, it takes an average of 23 minutes to get back on task.  That is clearly not productive.
  5. Open your email and then do something with it.
    • If the email requires a response or action that will take less than 2-3 minutes of your time, DO IT right then and there. Then, remove the email from your inbox.
    • Does the email pertain to a big project? Attach the email to an associated task on your To-Do List and move it out of your inbox.  Put the information where you need it!
    • Can you delegate the contents of the email to someone else? Great!  Forward it!  Be sure to include any specific expectations you may have about its completion.  Add a task, expected end date etc. so that the recipient does not need to email you again to ask additional questions.
    • Does the email require you to set up an appointment? Add the email contents directly to a calendar event and then automatically notify the other parties through your calendar app.  Avoid the back and forth of multiple emails to establish a meeting time, date or place by picking up the phone.  This is often much faster when it comes to scheduling meetings between busy professionals.
  6. Set up folders and/or auto filters to automate your inbox as much as possible. For example, do you receive information about professional education classes?  Create an education folder and automatically filter emails to go there.  When it’s time to take your next class, open the folder to find a course you are interested in.  Same thing with newsletters, coupons or other advertisements.  Skip the inbox altogether and browse through these non-urgent and unimportant things when you have the spare time.
  7. Email subject lines. The subject line is the first thing you read to help you determine how you are going to handle the email.  A good subject line will give you enough information to decide if the email is important, urgent or neither.  Subject lines should be short, clear and specific to the topic of the email.  NEVER add content to an email that does not pertain to the subject of that email.  If you need to discuss a different matter, start a new email thread with a new subject line.  Coach everyone you email with to follow these guidelines.
  8. “No Response Required”. There are many times where an email is sent to provide information or instructions.  By adding “No Response Required” at the end of your email, if appropriate, you can cut down on the number of unnecessary emails that simply say “Thanks” or “Ok”.
  9. Unsubscribe from anything that doesn’t serve a purpose for YOU or your BUSINESS, and keep yourself off solicitation mailing lists by carefully monitoring your preferences on retail sites and opting-out from offers and promotions. If you just can’t help yourself, at least follow the instructions in step 6 to keep these things out of your inbox.

Clutter is the result of delayed decisions, and your inbox is no exception!  Remember, if you are taking the time to open your inbox and look through your email, DO SOMETHING with it.  Don’t delay the decision making.  Email can be a highly productive and effective form of communication IF you use it properly as a tool and not a distraction.

The Streamlined Office has a wealth of knowledge and information to help you implement a strategy to manage your inbox and use email effectively.   We can help you learn how to use the functionality of your email system to maximize your results.  And, if your current habits are costing you in time and efficiency, we can teach you alternatives.  Are you tired of being a slave to your inbox?  Contact us at 480-221-0588 to schedule your FREE consultation!  We can help you create a system that is unique to your business and needs.  What could you do with the time you save?