E-mail is certainly an amazing communication tool that keeps us connected to our family, friends, coworkers, teachers, coaches….. and touches virtually every aspect of our lives. But because it is always on and running in the background of our computers, our phones, our tablets- e-mail can also be a vehicle that completely derails us in our quest to lead a more organized life. In this, the 4th post in my series on ” How to Organize Your Life”, I'll be sharing my tips on how to manage your email inbox so that it doesn't manage you.
Gain Control Over When You Deal with Your E-mail
As tempting as it is to look and see what just popped into your inbox, try to limit yourself to checking email only at certain times of the day. A good schedule would be to read email first thing in the morning, before or after lunch, and again before the end of the day. Or of course anytime you are waiting in a line and a few minutes to kill with your phone! Make sure to turn off the notification feature on email….. if you hear that little “ding” every time an email comes in, you're absolutely going to be tempted to see what it's all about!
Read E-mail Once and Deal With It!
When you have reached one of the times of day that you've allowed yourself to read email- do more than just scan your inbox! Read each email and decide exactly what you're gonna do with it. Either delete it because you don't need it, deal with it because it is something that you can quickly answer, or file it to handle it along with similar emails at a later time. I suggest having mailboxes that are inboxes by category- you can have an inbox for kids activities, an inbox for work related email, an inbox for funny emails or articles to read later on when you have the time (and that's the place to store all those jokes that your Dad sends to you!). Get these emails out of your main inbox and into category-based inboxes. Then deal with one of these category inboxes during each one of your daily email-reading sessions.
Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe
Just because one time you gave out your email address in order to receive a free coupon or get some sort of an online deal, doesn't mean you need to continue to read emails from those companies. Feel free to liberally unsubscribe to email lists that no longer appeal to you. You can even have an inbox called your “Unsubscribe inbox” and when you receive emails that are annoying to you- throw them in there. Once a week and go through that inbox and unsubscribe to all of those email lists.
The Goal is an Empty (Main) Inbox
At the end of every day, you want your main inbox to be completely empty! Every email has been dealt with and either deleted, answered or filed. And you need to have regular times set aside to deal with those category-based inboxes- some may need attention daily while others only weekly. Have a schedule and keep to it- and email will no longer manage you!
Want to See It in Action?
Here is a quick 2 minute Youtube video that shows you how to manage your email inbox….
I would love to hear from you- do any of you manage your email inbox in this way, and does it work for you? Please leave me a comment and share your thoughts!