Be honest – how many emails are in your inbox right now? Not just emails that are unread, but let’s include those emails that you’ve opened and left sitting in your inbox. Do you have just a few? Is it more like a few thousand? Maybe even more than that? Email has become a predominant source of communication in the workplace, and without a system set up to handle it, you can quickly become overwhelmed. Don’t let the inbox clutter take control! Take some time to implement these email management tips from this Professional Organizer in NYC.
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. Then create sub-categories to sort them by projects, clients, invoices, etc. The key to a working filing system is to create labels and categories 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. 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 save. 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. You can set up a filter or rule so that those emails never end up in your inbox, they are filtered directly into the specified folder you created. You could also use these for social media notifications, or even newsletters that you receive regularly. You can use these to sort through all emails, leaving your inbox open for only the important stuff. You can also create filters that allow you to label incoming emails according to email address, which makes them easy to search for.
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.
This Professional Organizer in NYC knows that once your email filing system is in place, you’ll be relieved at how easy it will be to store and find emails! For more email management tips, download my FREE email management tip sheet.