How do you manage your email inbox?
My inbox has gradually been getting overwhelming and I am finding that dealing with email is taking up a larger and larger portion of my day though I don't think it is the most efficient use of my time. Any tips on how to manage my inbox?
Use Folders by dividing what is essential and what is not. Spam filter is always the key but proprieties by flagging each email.
I think all of the suggestions here are good - but they all suggest ways to manage an already large inbox. What I have been trying to do is reduce the amount of messages coming into my box, and better process the messages I do get.
My basic / new principle is this: e-mail is a graveyard for important information. It's good for an initial communication, but nothing beyond that. Most of the information that fills up an inbox dies there because you cannot deal with it at time of entry.
So instead, when a message comes in, delegate it to the program you use for that task. For example, if you get a communication from a new business prospect, that should get added to your CRM and/or sales pipeline database, and then delete it from your inbox. If it's a client request, it should be added to your support ticketing system, and then deleted from the inbox. An appointment goes in your calendar, and so on.
Those purpose-built tools will help you properly track and process your e-mails quickly. Instead of leaving it in the inbox or moving to another folder, where it will be forgotten. You will never be able to clear every issue that comes into your inbox immediately, so instead delegate it quickly and delete it.
The other thing you could try to do is subscribe to RSS feeds rather than e-mail subscriptions. You will get all the same information, but it won't clog your inbox. Let's face it - how often do you have time to go back into your inbox and read subscriptions from months ago? And why would you, when it is then out of date?
Hope that helps a little!
I have multiple emails. one for general important business (and NEVER use it to sign up for anything online)/ one for all social media sites and learning via groups etc. / one for other stuff / junk.
I only deal with my main email during the day... the rest is icing on the cake and I get to it when I can... but they are easier to sift through as a group (i.e. will delete ALL linkedin / FB mail if I just didn't have time that month).
1. In Gmail, you have options to categorize your mails. You can add labels and sort your mails under labels.
2. You can have starred mails (mails marked with a star to say they are important)
3. I also think there are options to mark a mail as spam so that future mails from the sender will go to your spam box and not inbox.
If you have a relationship with the sender, business or personal,
you wouldn't want to delete the emails. You need them for reference.
If you don't know the sender, it would also be naive to just delete
the email on sight. Check the "subject title", if it conforms to your
undertakings then check it out. Reply as necessary.
If the subject title is no good then purge.
- Create a filter on topics you really want to read, let them transfer automatic into a separate directory. This will be the first you need to read.
- You must have an up to date spam filter.
- For the rest scan sender and issue decide on these two if it's relevant for you. Don't go through all the messages in detail. And delete direct what you don't want to read.
- A reply-question to you: is e-mail the right only and right way to communicate with your clients? If not plan a timebox for going into your mail. At least this will help you managing your time spending (lost) on mails.
I find to handle this problem take the time to set up the appropriate mailboxes for important subjects and then set up the correct rules to move messages into the right mailbox. For instantance, if I have a specific vendor I deal with, say Oracle, I would create a folder Oracle and then create a rule to move anything with the domain "oracle.com" into the Oracle folder. This is a very simple example but you get the idea. I have found if I spend the time to do this for important people, vendors, topics, etc, which does take time up front when you get it set up it saves me large amounts of time in the day to day. One thing is to be sure when setting up rules to make sure the rule doesn't mark the message as "read" or you will not know when to check you custom mailboxes for messages. Setting up the mailboxes and the appropriate rules does take sometime and can be tedious but I find it to be not only a time saver but helps with organization as well.
Hi Jen ~
I agree with most of what Simon and Stephen shared, except I don't auto-file anything; to me, it's too easy to overlook that way. My suggested steps:
1) Set up folders in your mail program, which should be alphabetical for easy reference.
2) Create sub-folders within major categories. For example: I have one main folder for coaching clients, with subfolders for each individual client. I have a separate folder for marketing/content creation, with subfolders for each business client. I also have folders for important groups I belong to (like mosaicHUB ;-), friends, newsletters I receive regularly and wish to keep, my mobile phone account...you get the idea.
3) Go through incoming messages at regular intervals (such as when you have a lull or want to take a breather from a project) and * take immediate action * on each email so they don't pile up: respond, file, delete, forward.
Hope this is helpful ~
1. You can unsubscribe to unwanted mail lists, reduce frequency of getting automated emails.
2. Spend some spare time (you will definitely have a little :) ) to check email.
3. Use advanced features provided by your mail service provider.
My method to review emails frequently. I use emails far more than phone calls. This allows the formation of threads to which I can refer over time. Threads are useful to remind people about their commitment to deliverables. This includes me. I have about 60 folders to which I assign all emails which have been read. The greatest of these is trash.
Finally, I have gmail and have the spam filters set quite tight. I try to keep the current emails upon which I have not acted, to a single page as my action list.
I see email as one of the way we receive information, which needs to be converted to ToDo.
Managing inbox works best for me to take actionable item out of the email into a system(custom system based on GTD), which I follow to track all items to followup/act on.
In addition, I tag email based on context (again based custom version of GTD by David Allen), for quickly being able to chunk up next actions at any given time.
I suggest trying to keep your Inbox empty by not allowing the emails to linger. Once you check an email, act on it by either replying, deleting, referring, or filing. Also, sending out less emails will help, especially those conversational emails that would be better communicated via phone or online chat. Finally, unsubscribe to newsletters and such that you rarely read. Most info received by email from such sources can be acquired by other means (RSS feeds, internet search, etc.).
I had this problem before and I solved it using automation provided by Microsoft Outlook.
1- create folders for each company/person you're receiving emails from
2- create rules (from Actions menu), you can configure the rule to move messages coming from certain domains "@domianname.com" to one of the folders you've created.
3- set up the rule to run automatically whenever a message arrives at your inbox
4- run the rule immediately after creation, this will perform the configured process on current items in the inbox.
It worked for me :)
Hi, Jen. I would suggest setting up folders, and having a separate account for things like signups, newsletters, etc., so that your important business emails come to your main account, and don't get lost among the other emails that you can read later, like newsletters.
You can also set up rules in your email client, so emails coming in are automatically routed to certain folders based on the sender, subject, etc., which will also save you time by having less sorting to do. I would also set aside a block of time or two each day, just to go through your email, and don't go beyond that time. A block of time at the beginning of the day, and/or one near the end of the day, should let you keep up with anything important, without having to worry about missing it. I hope this helps!
I suggest you look for in internet everything about the method GTD (get the things done).. there are many steps and tools to improve your productivity..
Hi Ms. Ostrosky,
With customers, use the cloud. With others, request them to go to the cloud if is a professional engagement. My customer emails have gone down by 90 $ with the cloud management strategy and so has the memory needs for the files.
You can control it if you are an independent freelancer. If it is a corporate employee situation, there are tools to filter and screen emails based on priority that one can set up on most email products available.
Good luck and happy email management!