My email Inbox is empty, ‘does a little dance’ I never thought I would utter those immortal words!
It is possible, it takes a little effort, but it is well worth it. It is not however a one off exercise, you need an approach before you undertake this exercise, so you can maintain all your hard work. It has to be logical and easy for you to follow so it becomes second nature.
Why should I even bother?
Do you ever get that feeling I don’t know where to start, then you end up wading around for a couple of hours and not achieving much at all?
The dread of opening your inbox in the morning to find it full of unread emails again where do they come from, don’t people sleep!
Sound familiar, an out of control inbox is a real productivity zapper, so its time to take control.
You will need to find an approach that works for you, it will increase your productivity, not only in dealing with your email but you’ll also have more time in the day to deal with other tasks.
Firstly think about the types of emails you get and how you might want to sort them, and create folders or labels as appropriate; for example - Actions / Waiting / Reference / Archive
This might be enough, if however, you feel you need something more detailed you could break it down into Clients, or Projects you are working on. Whatever you choose keep it simple! Remember your inbox is not a filing system, or a to do list.
Depending on the state of your inbox you might not achieve everything in one go so schedule a couple of sessions no more than an hour at a time.
The quick win, search using ‘unsubscribe’ this should find the Newsletters you receive, select all and move them to a folder called Newsletters; you can deal with these later.
The Two Minute Rule, work your way through starting with the most recent, and adopt the 2 minute approach, to deal with or organise into your folders.
Do it | Schedule (Actions) or Delegate it | Delete or File it|
Depending on the nature of your role anything over 2 weeks old is unlikely to need action, so you could move all these to a folder to sort later,
Don’t forget to use the DELETE Key
Rules - create some basic rules or filters to deal with regular emails that you don’t need to action but you do want to keep for reference, these rules allow these emails to go straight to a folder and don’t clutter your inbox. Newsletters for example should always go to a folder.
Newsletters are great (I would say that), they provide updates on useful subjects and often helpful tips and suggestions, but how often have you signed up just to get an offer, and when was the last time you actually reviewed the content to see if it is still relevant and unsubscribe.
The "Two-Minute Rule" (a concept from David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done) when you read your mail – if the email will take less than two minutes to read and reply to, then take care of it right now, even if it's not a high priority. The idea behind this is that if it takes less than two minutes to action, it takes longer to read and then store the task away "to do later" than it would to just take care of the task now. For emails that will take longer than two minutes to read or respond to, schedule time on your calendar, or add this as an action to do later.
You have sorted your email now to keep it that way, when you read your email you can waste valuable time so remember; -
If you find your emails result in a lot of actions or tasks to delegate you might want to consider an application such as