Friday, June 12, 2009

tips to better manage your e-mail

What do you see when you open your e-mail? How many messages do you have? Do you have to scroll down to view all of them? Are many of them unread? Does just the thought of them all overwhelm you?

Some people have even confessed to me that they feel paralyzed at the thought of checking their e-mail!

Your inbox is not a place to hold all your mail, just like the mailbox outside your house doesn't keep all the letters and junk mail you've ever received. When I check my mailbox every day, I don't bring all the mail in, read through it all and take it right back outside to put back inside the mail box. Do you?

Then why do we do that with our computer inbox?

It's because we don't have a system.

E-clutter happens when you open an email, can't decide what to do about it and so you close it again. And there it sits waiting for you...

I have a solution that is quick and easy for you.

Make a new folder, call it @today's date (where today's date is the actual date, e.g...), drag everything into that folder and start afresh.

Now create these 5 new habits:

1. Set a goal
Decide to have an inbox with no more than 20 (or whatever your comfort number is) items at any one time. Play a game with yourself and make a point of deleting a certain number of items daily. These can be from your inbox, sent items, folders, etc.

2. Set times during the day to read and process emails
For the most part, emails are a distraction so check emails only after you do your most important task of the day. Decide on one or two other times to process emails, maybe around lunch time and then just before you leave the office.

3. Delete junk mail immediately
Junk mail is anything you have not signed up for and includes chain letters, petitions, solicitations, scams, etc.

4. Make folders
Most people don't use folders correctly. You don't make individual folders just to drag all the contents of your inbox into these folders. Put some though into the types of e-mails you receive and label your folders accordingly.

5. Maintenance

At the end of the week, month, quarter, and/or year, set aside some time to go through your inbox, set mail, junk mail, deleted mail, and ALL of your folders and get rid of anything that is no longer needed. It doesn’t take as long as you think and you will feel so much less cluttered after you are finished!

For more organizing ideas: visit my website:

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