So much is now done via email that our inboxes can get so jammed up its impossible to find anything you need amongst all the junk. I am often asked by clients to either manage their inboxes for them or give them a one off clean and tidy to get them into new habits.
Here are my top tips for getting your inbox working for you and not against you:
Using folders to organise your inbox is a really good idea as it keeps everything in one place and emails can be found in an instant. You could have folders for each of your clients, folders for personal emails, folders for general admin, folders for your travel plans, folders for IT related emails and folders relating to your business accounts.
You can then add sub folders to these main folders so under a client folder if you had a number of matters for that client you could then separate emails into each matter. For personal you could have sub folders for each person who has sent you an email or for a certain subject you are dealing with at any one time; for example “building work”, “school applications”, “summer holiday 2018”. For general admin you could have sub folders for “stationery orders“, “monthly team meeting” or “useful information“. For travel plans you could create separate folders for upcoming trips for example “seminar in Canada May 2018“, but also sort all your past trip emails into folders too to really clear you inbox. Your accounts sub folders could be separated into years and then into incoming and outgoing.
Use auto rules to send emails directly into your subfolders, this stops with having to drag and drop all your emails, but just ensure that you don’t miss anything important as it won’t show in your inbox, however, you should still get a notification that you have a new email.
We get so much junk so how do we keep on top of it? The best way to start is to unsubscribe to email marketing that is no longer relevant to you. With the GDPR rules coming into force in May we should notice a reduction in the number of these emails, but its not guaranteed. So I suggest when you receive email marketing if it is for something you are no longer interested in – Spanish hotel offers that you subscribed to 3 years ago whilst looking for a holiday, vouchers for restaurants, newsletters from companies – then click on the unsubscribe link as soon as you see it. Yes it take a minute or two of your time but in the long run it will save you lots of time and hassle.
Prioritise your mail box
Create a to do list in your mailbox and each morning scan your emails and prioritise your work. You could have folders for High (to be done within 2 hours), Normal (to be done by the end of the day) and Low (to be completed by the end of the week). This is a great way to have a to do list if you are very techie and don’t like bits of paper everywhere. You can also flag these emails up to give you a reminder when they are due.
Less is more
Aim to keep less than 25 emails in your inbox at any one time. As soon as they come in and you’ve dealt with them, file them away.
Use your time wisely
While you are commuting or waiting for your next meeting take 10 minutes to declutter your mail box but unsubscribing from those emails, moving emails into their correct folder, looking through your priority folders.
Don’t delete your emails
If you are using sub-folders correctly you should never need to delete any of your emails (well apart from those junk emails). Storage on your cloud is generally so big that you shouldn’t need to delete emails to free up space.
I hope this has given you some ideas to get your mailbox more organised!