Here’s a question for you: if you checked your email right now, how many emails are in your inbox? 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 hundred?
We are bombarded with emails all day long. Email has become a major source of communication for family, friends, and business. Not to mention that with the option of paying bills online, there is an constant stream of payment reminders and updates via email. If you don’t have an email organization system already in place, you can quickly become overwhelmed!
The Professional Organizer in NYC is here to share with you some simple tips to create an email organization system that works for you!
Create a filing system. Much like the paper filing system in your home or office, you can create an email filing system to store read emails that need to be kept. Start by creating categories that match your paper filing system or by year or calendar quarter. You can also create sub-categories to sort them by bills, newsletters, projects, or whatever labels work for your needs. 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 cable bill every month, and your cable 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. It’s a very simple process, and 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, it is best to do so immediately. If more time will be needed, it is important to either flag the messages if they will be temporarily left in your inbox or to move them into a to-do folder. In either case, 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 kept.
An organized email system isn’t hard, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to put some time and effort into sorting through the emails that have already accumulated. Once your system is in place, you’ll be relieved at how easy it will be to store and find emails! Another important tip to remember from the Professional Organizer in NYC: you don’t need to save every single email. The delete button should be your friend!