DROWNING BY EMAIL: MANAGE YOUR OVERFLOWING INBOX
Feeling overwhelmed by the constant need to deal with emails?
Never feeling like you are on top of your emails?
Using your inbox as a filing system?
Wasting too much time looking for that elusive email?
Choosing the easy over the important, just to clear your inbox?
Worrying that you have missed something important?
Feeling the need to respond instantly?
If this is you, there are things you can do to help. Remember that there is no correct solution, only the one that works for you
When you can’t /don’t need to answer instantly but want to clear your inbox?
- Create a “reply later” email folder and move the email into that and schedule to look at it at a set time
- Attach the email to an appointment, as a reminder to deal with it at a time you choose and then file normally. I love this one.
- Learn how your “Follow Up” feature works in Outlook
- If you can’t get rid, mark the email “Unread” so you don’t forget about it – Unread can be in a different font or colour
- Change the heading to remind yourself what it is / make it easier to find.
- Unsubscribe immediately from spam email, better now with GDPR, but still a problem
- Use Rules to move things you never need to look at immediately into a specified folder
- Alter the fonts so that messages to you alone are a different colour; they are generally more important/urgent than ones you are just cc’d into
- Get rid of noises and notifications and badges on your screen. Like the old red flashing light on a BB, they are a dopamine trigger
- Don’t go down the rabbit hole. Focus on what is on your “to do” list
- Use your OOO function to buy you some thinking time
- Delete your deleted items automatically. It’s not a storage facility
What about the thousands of emails in my inbox right now?
- Shove them in an Archive folder. You can search for them if you need
- Get rid of any over a year old altogether if you have a backup system on your server
What can we do better?
- Give some indication as to the subject matter in the heading
- Do not automatically press Reply all
- Think about who really needs to see the email you are about to send. Perhaps make clear that those cc’d are for information only so they are not tempted to respond
- Make clear on global emails that you only expect a response with information. The email telling you nothing is a waste of time for everyone. Use the yes/no voting buttons
- Do not clutter emails with the unnecessary thank yous, especially to those on the periphery. They will thank you for not doing it.
- If you send fewer emails you will get fewer emails in return. Obvious but true
- Train yourself not to be an instant responder, but manage the timing of the response by OOO and the “holding” email