Email can be one of the more effective communication tools used in our daily lives. Yet, I have seen and often wondered how others ended up with hundreds, sometimes thousands of unread messages in their inbox. Truthfully, many of us struggle to get our email under control and do end up wasting a lot of time trying to sort it all out. Why? The lack of a system for doing so.
Over time, I developed an approach that works for me, in keeping with my lifestyle and habits. If you are still having difficulties in developing your very own system, I would like to recommend the following five tips for getting you well on your way toward better managing your inbox;
- Go through your email and search out messages that are received periodically, such as newsletters, marketing deals, and coupons. If you do not read them, go ahead and unsubscribe. Over time, this would help reduce any unnecessary messages from reaching your inbox. Also, make thorough use of your spam filter and allow it to take on some of the work of managing your inbox.
- Delete messages that you have read and no longer need (such as forwarded messages, notifications, and updates). Any messages that are kept in your inbox or archive, should be for reference only and for a period of up to a year.
- Be strategic in how you send and reply to messages. Avoid sending emails where a phone call or in-person visit would suffice or be more effective. Always be mindful of your audience, keep your messages clear and concise, and identify what actions you expect of the message's recipient, if applicable.
- Inbox filters and automation tools work very well. In Gmail for instance, you can create filters for automatically marking as important, deleting, labelling, or forwarding messages that you consider important. Most email applications offer similar functionality. This saves time by helping you to clearly identify which messages need your attention. Searching your email has gotten better, so avoid wasting time by putting stuff into folders.
- Check your mail regularly. Some people do not check mail often enough and tend to miss out on timely messages, appointments, or information. Check in regularly during the day at set times, maybe in the morning, at midday, and in the evening. Review and action your messages. Delete what you would not need.
Feel free to weigh in on any other tips and techniques that work for you in the comments section below.