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3 Email Management Tips to Prevent Using Your Inbox as a To Do List

One challenge you have probably faced in the office is how to manage the list of tasks that are sent to your inbox. With the rate and speed that email can pile up, it is incredibly easy to lose track of an important email and miss a necessary task. The key is to stop using your email inbox as a to-do list. Here are three email management tips from this Professional Organizer in NYC to help you get started.

Recognize the need for a separate to-do list. Beyond the abundance of email to sort through and process, your inbox is missing key features that only a to-do list can offer. You continually must sort through emails as tasks are not always mentioned in the subject lines. One email may include 5 or 6 tasks, and keeping track of what has been done might get complicated. Many email programs don’t allow you to sort your emails in any way but alphabetically by sender or by date received, which means it’s hard to group tasks together. You aren’t able to prioritize which email includes the most important task, or sort them by due date. Recognizing the need for a better system will help you make the transition.

Decide on a task management system. It doesn’t matter what you choose, there are so many options! You know yourself best. You could use a paper planner, Outlook, Google Calendar, or an online project management system like Asana, Trello, or ToDoist.

Create a strategy to flow tasks into your system. When you open an email, instead of just leaving it in your inbox to remind yourself of the task, or mark it unread or flag it so you come back to it, immediately add it to your task management system. Be as specific as possible when adding the task, making sure to include all important notes and details like specific deadlines from the email. If an email is sent to you asking you to complete a project, you can now take those details and break them into smaller tasks to add to your task management system. The key here is adding the tasks as the emails come in. If you wait to do it later, the email may get lost in the shuffle and you’ll begin to miss deadlines.

As your tasks are shifted out of your inbox, you can allow your email to get back to its original purpose of communication. Remember that email also works as a way to leave a paper trail of conversations that are all time and date stamped. When you can remove the tasks from your email, not only will your inbox be more manageable, but you will find yourself less anxious over missing important deadlines and skipping tasks. For more email management tips from this Professional Organizer in NYC, you can download my email management tip sheet for free right here.

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