Is Your Inbox Taking Over the World?

My inbox was taking over the world. Well, it was taking over MY world anyway. 

Because I received waaaay too many emails, I consistently had hundreds – sometimes thousands – of unread emails. I also was routinely distracted from my “real” work because I checked my email every time my inbox signaled a new message. I know I’m not alone here. Isn’t technology supposed to make our lives easier?

Image: anankkml at freedigitalphotos.net

Image: anankkml at freedigitalphotos.net

There are ways to manage email so it works as the tool it’s meant to be and doesn’t become a distraction or stressor. If you feel like your inbox is taking over YOUR world, read on for five tips to manage your email before it manages you.

1. Have more than one email address

Consider having an email address that’s not “work” and not “personal.” I have an account that’s only for non-essential email, such as retail stores, restaurants, the library, political campaigns, magazines, airlines and others that tend to send lots of emails I don’t necessarily need to do my work or live my life. 

Having a separate address for these types of emails unclutters my work email and keeps me from getting distracted with say, a shoe sale, when I should be writing up a client's development audit recommendations. This “extra” inbox gets my attention during downtime, for example standing in line at the post office or waiting at the doctor's office.

2. Relentlessly unsubscribe

If I find that I never open emails from “Sally’s Gift Shop” or, when I do, discover there’s nothing worth reading, I unsubscribe. Immediately, and with no regrets. To mass unsubscribe from your seemingly endless steam of promo emails, try Unroll.me.

3. Delete as you go

When possible, delete (or archive) emails immediately after reading when either, 1) you’ve replied or otherwise responded to this email, 2) it’s a “no reply or response required” email, or 3) you know, deep down, you’ll never reply or respond. 

4. Delete in batches

When clearing out my inbox, I look for places I can delete large numbers in one fell swoop. For example, if I finished a project over six months ago and believe I no longer need emails related to that project, I sort emails by keyword or by a person associated with that project and then delete the whole lot. Liberating!

(If you can’t bear to hit delete, try archiving these old project emails. At least they’ll be out of sight.)

5. Stop checking your email every five minutes (seriously!)

Turns out checking email all the time is bad for our health. Switching between doing work and checking email is stressful. Not to mention, inefficient.

I’ve recommended before, in a post about boosting productivity, checking your email only twice per day. To help, try silencing your email alerts. Here’s how to do this in Outlook. Then, schedule time in your calendar to check email, maybe 10:00am and 4:00pm. 

Do I have an inbox zero? Hardly. But I am less overwhelmed, less distracted and more productive. I hope these tips do the same for you, freeing up time so you can raise more money for your mission!

What suggestions do you have for managing your email and being more productive? Please share in Comments box below.

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