Email

How To Manage Your Email Inbox

Man checking email on laptop

Imagine your neighbors running to their mailboxes every 10 minutes, checking to see if anything new was in there. You’d be a little concerned, right?

But that’s what some of us do with our email inbox – we just can’t seem to keep ourselves from checking to make sure we haven’t missed that one email.

Or maybe you’re the opposite and you avoid your inbox like the plague because, well, it’s too terrifying to tackle? Whichever category you find yourself in, there’s hope! And you’re in good company 😊.

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According to studies, the average person checks email over 50 times a day! Yikes!

Email can be addicting – receiving it and sending it. And honestly, why not? Email is the most popular and effective way to communicate in business.

There was a time in my life when my Yahoo! mail inbox had over eight thousand – yes thousand – emails!

For several days I wondered why I’d stopped getting alerts when new emails came in. Well, the reason soon became clear. The server was not happy having such a hefty stash of emails sitting in one mailbox!

I had to completely overhaul my mailbox and set up some restrictions for myself to get through that mountain.

Your inbox may not be as crazy as mine was (hope not!) but if even the thought of it fills you with dread, there are a few proven steps you can try to take back control.

So let’s look at some ways to manage that inbox better. It’s best to take some time to work on these gradually, to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Think of What’s Truly Important to You

  • Ask yourself, “Am I working on something that’s going to make me better at what I do?” If the answer is no,  it’s a perfect time to start figuring out what those tasks should be and focus on them.
  • Please be sure to write down each task. Writing them down makes them real and actionable. You’ll find that when you do this, you’ll start to use email mainly for those meaningful tasks.

Set Up a Schedule:

  • Okay, I’ll be the first to admit this isn’t easy. But it’s a good idea to set specific times to work on email. Devote your morning (or the time of day that’s best for you) to work that you truly love.
  • Create a daily routine – Checking your email twice daily is usually enough; once in the morning and once in the afternoon for example. Experts suggest not first thing in the morning or last thing at night because then you may start and end your day subjecting your mood to others’ messages 😮.

Organize your emails into folders and use quick replies:

  • You can set up your email folders so that the server automatically places emails from certain senders (such as VIPs) into special folders. Also, set up folders for things you want to work on right away – an “ASAP” folder for example. Each mail server will do this in their own way but usually, it’s as simple as going to where your default folders are and clicking “Create new” and then typing in your chosen folder name. You can then either drag and drop your emails into the folder or click on the message(s) and use the “move to” feature.
  • Another great idea is to set up quick replies when you check your email. This helps when you know the proper response will require a lot of detail and attention. It lets the sender know you’re working on whatever it is and that you’re not ignoring their email. A quick, “Hi, I got your message and I’ll have an answer for you by Thursday” will do, as an example.

And now… Delete and Unsubscribe

I have to be honest and tell you that as I was going through my Yahoo! inbox fiasco, I had to use the delete button for a chunk of my emails. I had emails in there from 2-3 years prior. Who in the world is still waiting for a response to those emails? No one, that’s who! I had likely already taken care of any that needed responding to by phone or in person or it was JUNK!

This was not one of my business mailboxes, in case you’re wondering, LOL.

But, yes. There was a BUNCH of spam. Urghh!

So, I prayed for forgiveness and went to work deleting emails up to a certain date (I had already extracted hot items like tax and Dmv documents).

Next, I combed through the remaining messages and unsubscribed from unwanted mailing lists. I did NOT remember signing up to receive emails from “Smart Loan Help” or “eHarmony Partner”. Seriously?!? And why is it so difficult to unsubscribe from these anyway? You have to actually type in your email each time to unsubscribe… It just goes to show you; they had no business sending the emails to you in the first place. Oh, well.

I write about this somewhat easily now but this was a difficult process for me. It may be for you too. But the freedom you’ll feel is totally worth the effort.

There’s a useful online tool called Unroll.me. The app will help with the unsubscribe process. You can also have the app batch emails you get regularly. Then, you’ll get all those emails sent to you each day at a specific time. In ONE email!  You can check it out at the link above. I’m not an affiliate; it’s just been helpful to me.

So… are you ready to get to it?

Just start with one or two and then gradually work in any or all of the other recommendations!  You should see changes almost immediately. And you know what else? You’ll begin to like your inbox again.

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