Managing Your Inbox

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Emails are such an important communication tool. They are a quick and convenient way to communicate both internally and externally in a business. The one downside to emails can be the amount of time taken to read and answer all the messages in your Inbox. This can sometimes run from hundreds to thousands in a day, even worse when you take leave from the office. If your inbox becomes full, filled with old, unopened or unimportant emails it can be frustrating. Here we look at some tips to try to keep your Inbox as streamlined as possible and advice on maintaining this.

1. Put Time Aside Each Day To Manage Your Inbox

Rather than continually checking your emails which can be a drain on your time schedule specific blocks of time within your diary throughout the day for checking your emails. Change the availability in your calendar for this time to “Busy” to keep the time free. Creating structure like this will be a more productive use of your time. If possible turn off your phone and keep the door closed if you have the use of an office to avoid distractions. Turn off email notifications so that you do not keep getting drawn to looking at your Inbox when an email pops up.

Create an auto-reply email similar to the example below to send out:

“Due to high workload I am currently checking and responding to my emails twice daily at 10am and 3pm.

If you require urgent assistance that cannot wait please contact me on 07… ……”

Some people like to schedule time to check their emails only a couple of times a time and others prefer to dedicate 10 minutes every hour instead. Decide what works best for you. For further organisation you could carry out a deep clean of your Inbox once a week.

2. Actioning Your Emails

When you look through your Inbox the first step is to work out which ones can be deleted straight away as they are spam or sales emails. Check in the email to see if you have been added to a subscription list from the company and unsubscribe first and then delete the email. By unsubscribing you will gradually notice a reduction in your daily Inbox. Also ask to be removed from any group emails if they no longer apply to you.

Next look through to find emails that don’t require a response and you can either delete or archive these or file them in the relevant folder. To organise your emails better it is good practice to set up various folders within your Inbox to store them to keep the Inbox less cluttered and allow you to respond to your emails accordingly.

Use your calendar to set up reminders to action emails that require more of a response. In general try to respond to your emails within 48 hours even if it is just to acknowledge receipt of the email and an indication to the sender that you will be back in touch. If you are asked to forward on an email then forward it on and delete it if it is no longer your responsibility.

3. Inbox Folders

A good way to manage your emails is to set up folders so that you can file them into the relevant folders and keep the Inbox as clear as possible. Examples of folders could be “Archive”, “Action”, “Admin” “Future Reading”, “Follow Up” etc. Having a clearer Inbox is good for productivity and a clear mind. The only emails that should remain in the Inbox should be ones that you can action immediately or that you can action in three minutes or less. The idea behind this is that if it can be dealt with in three minutes or less it may take longer to read it and file it away.

If you have newsletters or blogs that you have been holding on to waiting to read them and haven’t been able to read them within a couple of weeks then either delete them or put these in the Archive folder. If you haven’t managed to read them in that timeframe the likelihood is that you won’t find the time and the information probably won’t be quite as relevant anymore anyway.

4. Flagging Emails
As well as filing emails you can flag ones within your Inbox that need your attention and that you need to mark as important but that you can’t action right away. You can then click on your Flagged Inbox folder and these are all in one place allowing you to action them quickly and efficiently.

5. Adding Rules

Most of the email programmes enable you to set rules for managing your emails. These rules sort the emails as soon as they come in straight into the relevant folder. For example if you get daily emails, for say a team update email, you could set up a rule in your program that moves emails with “Daily Team Update” in the subject line straight to the “Team Updates” folder as soon as they come in. This means that you don’t need to manually file these emails and it automatically keeps all of these emails in the same folder. You could also use this for sending unwanted newsletters etc straight to your junk folder.

These are just some of the ideas you could use to manage your emails more efficiently. If you would like to discuss further please get in touch via jo@yourownsecretary.co.uk or call 07904 524715.

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