With all of the current technology and software tools available, many people still find it very difficult to keep up with the number of emails they receive every day. However, there are some tips you can take to improve how you control your email inbox and will give you much more control.
Empty your inbox daily – Don’t worry, this does not mean you have to answer every email you receive, but it will mean you have to process every email.
Don’t get bogged down with every email – Read every email once and ask yourself it it requires some form of action.
If you are being asked to do something, there are three actions you can take:
- Action the email immediately – If you can do what is being requested in less than two minutes, it makes you look responsive and takes an item off your to-do list.
- Pass the task to someone else – If someone else is better equipped to answer the request and add more value, don’t worry about passing it on to a colleague. Remember to focus on where you add value and offload everything else.
- Decide you will do the task later -This does not mean procrastinate about it. Only take this action if you can’t action the email in less than two minutes or you can’t delegate it to someone else. Add the task to your to-do list or schedule a specific time you will complete it.
If you can’t action the email (i.e. the email is not requesting that you do something) or you have already taken the appropriate action, choose from these two options:
- Delete it – If you won’t need the information later, then simply delete the email.
- File it – If you might need to refer to the email later, file it under one folder than is called “Completed Emails”. It is not wise to create an elaborate series of folders as it will make the email more difficult to find in the future.
Create email rules to filter low-priority messages – Go into the Tools menu in Outlook to set up email rules that will save you hours of time.
For example, you can set up a rule where emails that you are just copied into (CCed) are automatically moved to a separate folder so that they don’t clutter up your main inbox.
Another example would be setting up a Bacn (solicted bulk email) folder for email newsletters, receipts and other automatically generated email material. These are a couple of examples but by setting up rules, you can ensure that you focus on the most important emails that you receive.
In the end, a little extra effort with how you deal with your emails will save you time and make sure that you can control your workflow.