Email is one of the primary forms of communication these days. I get about 50 emails a day and I am working very hard at trying to deal with emails quickly or else they will snowball in my inbox. As of December 31, I still had 776 emails in my inbox.
One of my goals in 2011 is to try to have less than 100 emails in my inbox at any given time. The only way that is going to happen is if I deal with the emails right away instead of procrastinating. For this reason, I found some email tips from Greg Habstritt, Founder of Simple Wealth and Engaged Entrepreneur, which I thought I would summarize, and share with you.
- Stop using your inbox as a storage box. It’s called an ‘inbox’ and not a ‘storage box’ for a reason. Once you have dealt with an email, move it out of your inbox immediately. For me, I’ve created some folders for emails that occur regularly. For example, I have a folder for “reader response” because I get a lot of people emailing me with general finance questions. I have another folder for “media requests” when I get requests for media interviews. I have another folder called “Website project 2010” because I get a lot of emails on a big project I am working on and this way all correspondence for this project goes into one folder. For any emails that do not fit into my 12 main folders, I have an archived folder that is automatic in my email program. So when I am done with an email, I either move it to a folder or just press the archive button and it is gone form my inbox.
- Use ”Rules” and “Filters” to move non-important emails to a separate folder that you will review when you have time. Personally I have a “To Read folder but I have not really utilized automation to sort or file this stuff for me.
- For those of you with a lot of emails now in your inbox, Greg recommends that you archive all your emails and start with a clean inbox. I did this with 2010 and took some time this week to try to deal with some of the more urgent archived emails. By doing this it has forced me to deal with emails that may not have been urgent at the moment but still needed to get done. It feels good to start crossing these nagging to-do’s off the list
- Turn your “NEW MESSAGE” notification off. This was an easy one for me because I did this a long time ago. I found the new email alert too distracting. Temptation always pulled me over to check every new email that came in. When I shut the notification off, I was in control of when I wanted to check emails instead of the email controlling my time.
- Only check emails when you schedule it in. Greg recommends checking emails 2 to 3 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes each time. I must admit I do not do this and don’t feel like it’s a priority to schedule a specific time to check emails. All I try to do is finish what I am working on before I check emails. When I had my email notification alert on, I found myself leaving a project to check and email and even if it took a few seconds to check the email and come back, it disrupted my flow and thoughts.
Email is a big part of communication. It can run your life so it’s important to find strategies to make sure it does not become overwhelming. What strategies work for you? And what strategies don’t?