Advantages of Keeping Your Inbox Organized
Email has become an indispensable communication tool. We rely on it for a variety of purposes on both a personal and professional level. In our current digital age, electronic contact is the lifeblood by which companies interact with their client base, cultivate relationships, generate sales, and conduct business deals.
Since emails contain some of your most valuable information, it is crucial to stay organized so that you never miss an opportunity, appointment or important event because of mailbox mismanagement.
Personally, I like my inbox the same way I like my daily planner: simple, orderly, and clear communication on what to do next. Some people may have no problem with hundreds or even thousands of unread messages in their inbox. If that is you, stop reading now!
However, if you are like me and unread email gives you stress — below are my top 5 tips to begin your organization today, relieve stress and make time to enjoy the rest of your summer.
5 Tips to Effectively Organize Your Inbox
- Tame the Pile: Create a Filing System with Folders
A filing system helps organize emails by making sure you can retrieve important emails with relative ease. It also allows you to identify emails which require a response that have not yet been addressed. Used correctly, this system ensures that priority emails are not lost in the shuffle to save you time, money, and safeguard your reputation.
In my email inbox:
- Each client has a separate folder
- Within each client folder, there are 5-10 subfolders (representing a different client project)
- My inbox contains ONLY active emails requiring action on my part
- Work the System: Create Rules and Filters
How can anyone operate at maximum productivity while looking through 37 unread Facebook notifications, 8 emails about your friend’s 40th birthday party, 5 newsletters of potential interest?
Most of the emails in your inbox right now don’t have to be there. Yes, that’s right – you can clear, tag and file them without ever having to read them. Creating filter rules allows you to automatically pre-sort emails into respective folders for your chosen criteria (for example: notifications, social media, finance and bills, friends or family).
Filters can be easily installed within your specific email platform (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo Mail, etc.)
- The Cost of Being Distracted: Turn off Email Notifications
We live in a world of interruption. You may have everything going to the right folder and all the organizational rules and filters working, but if your habit is to respond to each incoming email message every time it pops up on your screen, you are still being ruled by email and your organization plan may ultimately sink.
To maximize productivity and well-being, stop distracting yourself. All emails are NOT created equally and only a few deserve the right to interrupt us. Take the time that works for YOU during the day to open and address emails while you ALSO have the focus and time for maintaining your inbox organization.
- Now, Get a Clean Start: A New Beginning
Set aside a portion of time this summer to get caught up. Depending on how far behind you are, allow yourself a scheduled 2-hour “appointment” on the calendar – sit down and go through your entire inbox. Your goal is to create a folder system with filters and then act on, file or eliminate every email in your inbox.
- Moving Forward: Never Touch an Email Twice
Staying productive is as much about maintaining your momentum as it is about managing your time. I have found that you are better off finishing everything you start, rather than saving tasks in a holding pattern.
We often keep email messages with the thought that we’ll have time to pay attention to them later. In reality, “later” never comes. Open your email when you have a dedicated timeslot and:
- If it is not important or spam, delete it.
- If you can quickly answer the email, respond and delete (or file).
- If additional time needed, flag as “unread” and keep in your inbox.
Once these steps are completed, your inbox will now hold only important emails and you will be able to aggregate communication to process and respond at your own convenience.
Email was designed to help us achieve more and communicate more effectively. By following these tips this summer season for a streamlined organization,
Happy Summer Organizing!
- Sarah Lieb, Marketing Coordinator