Keeping your inbox organized is no small feat. If you’re like many of us, you receive at least 100 email a day if not more. Messages collect from clients, colleagues, all of the email mailing lists and of course plenty of spam. To eliminate email overwhelm, start with the basics. Create a system of filing, filters, and rules to keep your inbox organized so you’ll be more efficient. Here are this NYC Office Organizer’s strategies for creating an email management system that will work for you.
Create a filing system. Just like your paper filing system in your office, an email filing system is necessary to keep your inbox organized. First, create categories that match your paper filing system if you have one. These can be by category, by year, or by calendar quarter. The key is to create broad categories so that there will be a minimum number of folders. In addition, use folder names that you can easily recognize. This means you will know exactly where an email is stored and you will easily be able to locate it if needed. It also helps you make decisions faster when processing the messages in your inbox, so that you can quickly sort out emails that don’t require action.
Use filters or rules. Depending on what email program you use, they may have different names, but they all have the same purpose… to minimize the number of messages collecting in your inbox. A filter or rule is set up within your email program and automatically processes emails and organizes them according to specified criteria. Gmail uses filters, Outlook and Apple Email use rules. A filter or rule can be used to process the emails that aren’t as important, but that you know you want to keep for a future read or reference. For example, you may autopay your office internet bill every month, and your internet company sends you a confirmation email after the payment was received. You may not need to view these emails regularly, but you certainly want to save them in case there is a problem with your account. In addition, filters can allow you to label incoming emails according to email address, which will make the retrieval easier.
Use your inbox for important emails. You want to specifically use your inbox for storing new unread messages. If a message can be responded to within 2 minutes, then do so right away. If more time will be needed, either flag the messages if they will be temporarily left in your inbox or move them into a to-do folder. Then make sure you note the task to be done on your to-do list so that you can then schedule time to address it. It’s important to remember that your inbox is not a to-do list so your priority should be to not use it as one. Once you reply to these emails, transfer them to the appropriate folder if the message needs to be saved.
Keeping your inbox organized is a priority so that you don’t miss anything important. For more hands-on office organizing strategies and email management support, reach out to your NYC Professional Office Organizer today.