NYC Professional Office Organizer

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Ask a Professional Office Organizer – Email Overwhelm

Email overwhelm – everyone has experienced it at one point or another. Between client emails, newsletter subscriptions, team communications, and so much more, it’s no wonder so many people get stuck in their inboxes. This month your NYC Professional Office Organizer answers your email management questions so that you can get out of your inbox and onto other tasks.

Q: I spend HOURS every morning sorting through emails, most of which I don’t even need to read. How can I stop spending so much time sorting email? I have a growing to-do list to tackle!

A: I would highly recommend introducing some strategies for minimizing the number of messages that you receive in your main email inbox. You can use another email address for newsletters, event invites and other categories of mail that are cluttering up your inbox. In regards to those messages that should be directed to your main inbox but don’t need to be read immediately, set up some rules (in Outlook) or filters (in gmail) to automatically direct these messages to another folder within your email system. This could be used for recurring monthly invoices, networking meeting notices, etc. If you do this, be sure to check these folders on a set frequency.

Q: I am going on vacation but nervous to completely ignore my inbox for a few days. I do need the time away, though, and don’t want to spend the entire time at the beach sorting emails. Any advice – is there a compromise?

A: While it is very difficult to completely disconnect, you can set boundaries while on vacation. Determine the specific number of times during the day that you’ll be checking email and be sure to advise all your contacts of this schedule before you leave. Be sure to include this info in the autoresponder that you set up prior to leaving for your well-deserved vacation. In addition, include the contact info for the colleague or team member who will be covering for you. Should there be a real emergency, this individual can call or email you as needed.

Q: I am leaving emails in my inbox that include tasks that I need to accomplish. I keep losing emails, and consequently losing tasks and missing deadlines. How can I fix this?

A: I don’t believe that it’s a good idea to use your inbox as a to-do list for this very reason. While you might leave the messages in your inbox, it’s important to flag them in some manner to designate that there are tasks to be done. In addition, all tasks delivered via email should be included on your to-do list. This way can you prioritize them based on importance and due dates so they can be tackled at the appropriate time.

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