You’ve Got Mail, TOO Much Mail

It’s just about summertime and you may be into swimming, but drowning in your email is NOT cool. I know it can be hard to keep up with today’s advanced technology on steroids, but it is manageable if you follow a few simple steps on a daily basis.

To get started, let’s introduce you to your Inbox, you know, that black hole where email piles up to infinity and beyond.  This goes without saying, okay it doesn’t, don’t let this happen! Don’t get behind!  If you’re currently up to your neck in emails you’ll need to dig out first to put the following tips into practice.  To dig out quickly, search your inbox for unread messages from 30+ days ago, chances are those emails were not urgent or someone would have picked up the phone and dialed you by now.  And if you are into coupons and deals, these promotions most definitely expired.  Delete!  Now you can start the following tips with a clean slate.

A good friend and colleague of mine once had this written on a post-it-note at her desk, and I thought it was brilliant, so I implemented it stat!  Thanks DTMB! Now it’s your turn.  When you open your inbox tomorrow morning, treat each new message with one of the following:

  1. Do It.
    Like Nike says, Just Do It!  Whatever action item an email presents, do it.  Complete the task right then and there.  Once it is finished, delete the email.  Just as gratifying as checking something off your to-do-list!
  2. Delegate It.
    Is this a task for someone else?  Forward it and get it out of your inbox.
  3. Delete It.*
    Junk, endless list of CC’d emails, etc.  If it doesn’t have an action item and it’s not something you need for reference, send it to the recycling bin.
  4. File It.**
    I know I should have come up with another D-word to be consistent, but it didn’t happen.  Control Freak!  Last but not least, file it.  Perhaps you don’t have an action item from an email, but you need to archive it for future proof, I guess the more PC term would be future reference, but we all secretly know why we hold on to these emails.

And VOILÀ!  You’ve Got Mail… In an organized fashion. Practice this daily for a stress free inbox, even if it requires blocking 15 minutes on your calendar to complete, you’ll thank yourself later.

*Sick of spam?  Then don’t just delete junk mail, you can’t rid these pests without identifying them as junk OR clicking unsubscribe. Take the extra 30 seconds to do this and be spam free!  What if you like spam?  Yuck!  Sorry wrong spam, I digress…  If you want to hold onto promotions and deals, but are sick of seeing them in your inbox, create a rule so they auto filter into a folder.  Gmail has this as a built-in function with tabs, very handy!

** When it comes to filing your email, create folders or categories (based on your email interface) that work for your job/situation.  But always include the following categories.  IMMEDIATE and Important.  IMMEDIATE emails need to be closed out ASAP and Important emails are next in the line of priority.  For me, emails never leave my inbox until they are complete.  So if you have a few stragglers because you are waiting on some missing pieces to the closed task puzzle, categorize or file them appropriately to keep them safely out-of-the-way , but not out of your mind.

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