I am sure that every one of us experiences e-mail overload on some level. Not only do we receive business and work-related e-mails that need immediate attention, ezines that we’ve subscribed to, and forum discussions we’ve joined, but we also receive spam, forwards, and notes from our friends and family. Every single one of these must be addressed and I’m here to share with you some simple steps (I love simple steps) to keep our Inboxes under control.
Read your emails. It doesn’t matter if you read them randomly throughout the day or if you have scheduled time slots for reading your e-mail – as long as you do read them! And I shouldn’t even have to mention that you need to read them daily.
Create Rules. You can create E-mail Rules so that certain e-mails will go directly to specific folders and therefore not clutter up your Inbox. I have IVAA forum e-mails sent directly to its own folder and I make a point of reading those separately.
Take action on each e-mail as you read it. For example:
• Immediately reply to any messages you can
• If an e-mail requires time and effort, add it to your To Do List
• Mark any appointments or events on your calendar
• Unsubscribe if you are no longer interested in advertisements or ezines you receive (but not mine!)
When you’re done with the e-mail, move it! Don’t be afraid of using Folders and Subfolders in your e-mail program. Create a folder for each of your customers or group together similar topics. As you read and finish with each e-mail, delete them or move them into their appropriate folders. For instance, I have folders for:
• Each of my customers
• Each organization I am a member of
• Training courses I have taken, and
• Accounting and bookkeeping issues (just to name a few)
When I need to refer back to an old email, I know exactly where to find it.
By leaving weeks or months or years worth (heaven forbid) of e-mails in your Inbox, you’re allowing important information or tasks to “fall through the cracks”. There’s no way to know at a glance if something has been dealt with or not. If you keep a tidy Inbox, you’ll know that if something is in there, it needs to be worked on.
I don’t know about you, but I like it when my Inbox (e-mail or physical) is empty. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something or managed to get everything done. It lifts my spirits. And most of all it makes me feel organized and less stressed.
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOU’RE-ZINE OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you let me know and include this complete blurb with it: 11/12/2008 – Virtual Assistant Kimberly McCloskey publishes the newsletter “Productivity Pointers” featuring articles on how we all can improve our productivity. Get yours via email by requesting it from kimberly.j.mccloskey @ gmail.com.