I hear a lot of you are complaining about managing your inbox, so I wanted to share some very simple strategies to help you manage the onslaught in your inbox. Whether you get 5 or 1000 emails a day, they add up and they add up fast. What’s more, is that email management seems to take on a life of its own. We spend hours every day “checking email”. It’s a huge time-sucking hole from which there is no escape at times. What happens with email is that everyone else’s demands, requests, and even simple “hello’s” become equally important and take precedence over the things that you really want or need to do.
- Unsubscribe. I realize that I am taking a risk by giving you this strategy because I’d rather you don’t unsubscribe from our emails, however, if you are looking at an inbox full of newsletters and other “self-help” information that you have subscribed to over the years but never read, pick your favorite few and unsubscribe from the rest. Keeping hundreds of self-help emails in your inbox is not going to make you read them or follow the advice. By keeping them the only thing that you are helping yourself to do is get further overwhelmed.
- Unclick the box. Almost all online vendors pre-fill a little check box that gives them permission to send you emails and offers. Unclick the box! I realize that this may mean that you won’t get information about the upcoming 10% off sale but let’s face it; if you needed something and went online to find it you’re likely to find the 10% off sale anyway. Oh, if for some reason the box isn’t filled in already…do not click on it!
- You might be able to guess this one but just in case…as you get offers from vendors that you’ve done business with already, unsubscribe from their list. You already know that vendor and when you need something from them you will go online to find it.
- Keep separate email accounts. One account that you will stay current with for friends, family, work, and those topics which are most important to you and another for bulk mail, online shopping needs, and those sign up sheets that you end up filling out.
- Use the delete key. You do not need to act on or respond to every single email you receive. Choose to respond to the ones that are most important to you and let go of the rest. You can even delete those “older ones” that you haven’t gotten around to answering yet because the sender probably doesn’t remember they sent it or else they just assume that it’s been lost in your inbox. If it’s that important they will contact you again.
- If you want to receive less email, send less email. As ridiculously simple as it sounds for such a pervasive problem, I’ve found this to be the golden rule of email management: Send less of it. I stopped sending emails and instead use Skype for fast questions.
What strategies are you using to improve your productivity? Let us know in the comments.
So how can you manage it? Here are 5 strategies for you to try. By the way, these are the same strategies that I use and that I recommend to my clients.