With the amount of daily emails increasing, some days it can seem that the only thing you’ve managed to get done all day is write, read and answer emails.
Though, with limited time and a never-ending to-do list, it’s important to develop a system that will help you manage your email time more effectively and efficiently. So here are six tips to help you take back control of your ever-growing email inbox.
1. Sort your emails offline
When you set aside time to clear your inbox, switch off your internet connection so you don’t become distracted with new emails coming in.
We can often tread water with our email and let some of the older emails fall through the cracks, affecting our professionalism. Sorting offline gives you a greater opportunity to catch up on the emails that have been sitting at the bottom of your inbox for a while that need to be addressed before the new ones come through.
2. Read, act, delete or file
The key to culling your emails is to read and action them straight away to avoid double handling. Once you have addressed the email, move it out of your inbox, either filing it in a clearly labelled folder or deleting it.
Deleting or filing your emails immediately will help you track what emails you are yet to address and prevent emails getting lost in an overflowing inbox.
3. Delete ruthlessly
There are obviously emails we need to keep for our records, though a lot of the emails we receive can be deleted once read and actioned. As you sort, evaluate whether the email needs to be kept and filed or deleted to save space.
4. Develop an email filing system that works for you
Having an email filing system is vital. What kind of system and how detailed it is depends on what works for you. It could be as simple as a ‘to do’ and ‘have done’ folder, or an intricate web of folders with multiple sub-categories like my maze of an inbox.
Test and measure which filing method helps you find the information you need quickly and easily. Though if by some chance you file your emails too well, like I seem to do regularly, the search function can be a lifesaver!
5. Only keep the latest email in a series
If you have a series of emails going back and forth under the one subject heading, only keep the latest email in your inbox and file the rest to save space.
6. Have set times for sorting your emails as well as answering them
You won’t always have time to answer all of the emails coming through, though if you can manage to sort, delete and flag those that need to be actioned you can save yourself time and stress later.
So while you should set aside times to answer your emails each day, in the really busy times factor in a few times were you simply check and sort so you can stay on top of your inbox.
It’s a good idea to keep this timed though, so you don’t become stuck in your inbox when you need to be doing other tasks.
How do you keep your emails in check?