How many of your emails do you deal with once they’ve moved off that front screen? Why do you keep them in your inbox if you’re never going to deal with them?

One of the first things I do for every client is clean up their inbox. It’s amazing how much more productive a person is when they can see one days’ worth of emails in their inbox. Taking away that sense of overwhelming stress that we all feel when we have too many emails, clears our heads to think about the actual task we need to be doing to produce income or spend time with the family or leave the house on time, whatever it is that you would rather be doing, than dealing with a mountain of email.

So here are my top tips to getting your emails sorted.

  1. Open your inbox twice a day, once you have been through your emails, close your inbox. Keeping it open is like social media, it’s a constant distraction.
  2. Create a folder for each year that you have in your inbox eg: 2014, 2015, 2016,2017 and move that years email into that folder right now. If you haven’t looked at it by now, you are not likely to. If you needed to do something with it, you would have done it by now or it will come back up down the track.
  3. Now move everything for 2018 into January, leaving only one days’ worth of emails in your inbox.
  4. As emails come in:
    • Create an appropriate folder. Keep your folders to a minimum. You don’t need a folder for each topic, you need a folder that can hold a summary of information. Eg: you don’t need a folder for 15-20 degree days, 20-25 degree days and 25-30 degree days – you only need a folder for weather (unless of course you are a researcher into weather temperatures)
    • Do they really need a response? If not, feel free to file them without responding. Unless it is a file with a question directly related to you, do not respond. If it is a group email you do not need to reply unless a specific request is sent to you.
    • If an email needs longer than 2 minutes spent on it, slot that time into your calendar and file the email straight away (you can always refer back to it while you’re working on the file – most email programs offer great search engines even if you forget where you filed it).
    • If it is an email you need to respond that only requires a short answer, reply straight away.
    • If a client requires you to do work for them, immediately enter the work into your calendar to be done, then notify the client of when that work is expected to be done.
    • Add any dates straight into your calendar now. Don’t put this off, it will just move its way down your inbox and you’ll forget all about it.
  5. Try to keep emails to a minimum by sending emails with everything that you may require, rather than sending numerous emails with one question in each of them.
  6. Learn to love your emails, we need them and they’re not going anywhere, so we need to learn how to file them just like we use to file paperwork in the old days.

This may all sound a bit much and bit overwhelming but I can guarantee you there is no better way to start a productive day than with a clean inbox and if you haven’t done this by the end of January, get in touch and we can have a chat about getting you sorted.

- Lisa Hawkings