Stop the Inbox Insanity!
If you are like me, it happens all of a sudden. You are cruising through the work day, business as usual, when BAM! You look at your inbox and it is out of control.
I am not sure how it happens, but it does. The best way I know to cope with the insanity is to take the time (which can take a while) to do a major spring cleaning of my inbox - folders included. As we become busier and more reliant on emails, we are slowing becoming data hoarders. But every once in a while, we need to have an inbox intervention.
One way to implement said inbox intervention? Get the important stuff out of there. While we do not need one more application to manage, it is far too easy to let important things slip through the cracks as they become buried further and further down in the email pile. There are many good options out there, but I use Evernote in order to separate the importation items out of my emails and keep track of my progress with them.
We spend a significant amount of time (and money) fixing up, decorating, and creating the right feng shui for our homes and our workspaces. Why should our inboxes be any different? We spend so much time in them, we ought to take the time to find the best, most productive set up for our inboxes. After all, you are the one that has to use it multiple times a day. Find the best organization for you and your work habits/style. Find your inbox feng shui.
Make an action list. At least once a day, go through your emails and create a list of actions you need to take to accomplish your goals and priorities. What needs to be done first? What can wait until tomorrow? Which are issues that you do not need to take any action on at all? Figure out what needs to be done and make a separate list outside of your inbox (e.g. in Evernote, on paper, etc.)
Do the action list. Don't go through the process with no follow through.
While cleaning and organizing can help tremendously, pushing all of your emails under the bed or cramming them in a closet so your mom thinks you actually put things away will only lead to delayed chaos. Folders, within folders, within folders only masks the problem. Rather than hiding your emails, address them and then delete them. Make folders a last resort.
Lastly, it is easy to continuously hop in and out of emails while we are in the middle of other tasks (guilty myself!). But this is more harmful than helpful. Instead of completing a project and moving on to the next, we end up with a bunch of half-finished projects that we have to keep revisiting in order to get them all the way done. Don't multitask when in the inbox. Set aside a specific time dedicated only to cleaning up, replying, taking action, and keeping your productive inbox feng shui flowing.
Want even more ways to spring clean your inbox? Check out these Top 10 Tips for Keeping Your E-Mail Inbox Clean.
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