The ever overflowing inbox. How to tame it.
If you're like me, you have multiple email addresses and have subscribed to numorous newsletters, news feeds, product updates, and then, there is Company email. Whoa! Before you know it, every inbox you have is overflowing and there is not enough time in the day to read it all. What if there was a way to at least see what you wanted when you wanted to? What if there was a way to at least buy some time before you absolutely had to respond or act on something?
The first an most important strategy is to empower your Admin or Virtual Assistant to be a voice for you. Your Admin should be able to respond to and schedule meeting requests, answer emails requesting updates and, delete junk email at the very least. You're the one who sets the tone, your Admin is as efficient as you allow him/her to be. If you don't have an Admin, here are a few tips you may be able to implement with ease.
1. Set a Timer
Setting a timer for several sessions during the day will help to break up the time spent in the inbox. Consider a block of 1 hour to start the day and 2 or 3 smaller blocks of time during the remainder of the day. Only work on the email in your inbox during these blocks of time. Extra Tip: Starting or ending the block of time with a brisk 5 minute walk will help to rejuvenate and clear the fog. Adding essential oils to a diffuser or applying to your wrists and back of neck would also be uplifting and clarifying.
2. Delete, Archive and Unsubscribe Aggressively
Ask these questions:
- Is action required now? Yes = Schedule/Act No = Delete
- Does the information serve you? Yes = File/Act No = Delete
- Can the matter be delegated? Yes = Forward to Delegate/Act
3. Use Folders
Use folders and rules to organize the emails that you receive by project or topics to automatically flow into the folder. This allows you to quickly assess the folder to determine what actions are needed without the distraction of the entire inbox.
4. Consider an Email Template
Do you find yourself replying to emails with the same answer time after time multiple times a day or week? Buy yourself some time by using a template with the email response already set up. Yes, you can tweak and personalize the template for the person you're responding to as needed before you hit the send button. In GMail, the email template is known as a "canned response" whereas in Outlook, you'll need to set up a template.
5. Flag Time Sensitive Emails for Action
During your time blocks, be sure to flag time sensitive email that you are able to return to at a later time. Flags are timers in and of themselves that will alert you as to when action is needed.
6. Temporarily Archive and Group Digest
This is a game changer for me. There are free tools available that will temporarily archive your emails so they "return" at a later time or, better yet, group them into a "daily digest". How cool is that? Not only will these tools archive and digest, some will help you to unsubscribe, organize, and more. Find out more in the article Got Email Overload? 14 Email Management Tools for Organizing Your Inbox.
Taming the inbox is an empowering process that will lift the fog of overload. I hope these tips will serve you well. If you're in need of a VA, I welcome the the opportunity to speak with you. Reach out to me here.