Friday, February 29, 2008

Organizing Your Out of Control Email Inbox

So you haven’t deleted an email in 3 years, so it takes 3 days for your email system to search for a password reminder to your favorite website. Keeping your email inbox messy is like dumping all of your mail on your doormat. It’s disorganized, messy and wastes your time. I will admit I’ve had this problem, but I’ve devised a few tips for cleaning your email us.
  1. Do a bulk search on things you know are spam - Did you subscribe to 5 different email lists only to read one of them 1/3 of the time? Get rid of them, they’re only sitting in your inbox taking up space and making you feel guilty for not reading them.
  2. Unsubscribe - If there is one or more email lists that you have never actually read, find away to unsubscribe to them, or at the least list them as spam and have them automatically filtered out for easy deleting.
  3. Create folders and file - Here is a list of folders I have, you may want to change them for your needs, but I found just about anything fits into these.
  • Read and Respond – Emails that shouldn’t be in my inbox, but I am looking to read some day or I should respond to someone. I like to look through here at least once a week to make sure there isn’t anything I’m slacking on.
  • Bills – Bills and payment confirmations.
  • Blog Research – I like to keep forwards or websites or list research for my blog here so if I’m ever uninspired I can look in here, you can really create a folder for each topic of research you are interested in.
  • Current Projects – Doing research for something new? Try to store it all in one spot.
  • Files – I email myself files instead of saving them to a thumbdrive.
  • Friends – All of the interesting emails from them, not the ones that are 2 sentences long.
  • Job – job search tips, interesting companies, interesting postings (some people toss old postings, but I think that if you were interested in the company once, you should hold on to it and maybe check it out later when you’re more motivated to look for a new job)
  • Memberships – emails about password/account information
  • Recipes – I love to cook and the lists I’m on send me recipes all the time, I try to hang on to anything I might like.
  • Writing – Here is where I keep information from cool writing websites, as well as emails from editors and other writers.
  • Yoga_Health – Yoga tips and health articles I might read some day, right after I quit drinking Diet Coke…
  1. Be realistic about what you can do - I know that I will never have time to read all of the Yoga tips I love, so I have a deadline and if the emails are more than a month old I delete them.
  2. Email Reminders – I love using email reminders to remind myself to do something or take care of someone’s birthday, however once the event is over, get rid of the reminder.
  3. Responses don’t have to be perfect– If the email is from my friend and all it requires is a two sentence response, do it while you have it open. By the time you close and and reopen it later you’ve wasted even more time. Don’t make life more complicated than it is.
  4. Schedule Time on it – Don’t let yourself get bogged down with elaborate organization systems. It should not take you more than 15 minutes to organize your email. Of course it’ll take more time to respond, but budget your time specifically to organize so at least you know what’s going on in your InBox.

No comments: