Organization 101 – Lesson 2: Managing Your Inflated Inbox

Being organized is a lot like getting in shape: most of us fantasize about it but very few actually make it happen. Luckily, it’s a skill that can be learned - by anyone, in any profession - and that usually shows results pretty quickly. My mother was an organized person, so I was fortunate to learn a few tricks that have served me well over the years.

In this article we tackle a big source of stress… The inflated email inbox!
As mentioned in my previous post, the key to organization is to be in control, aware and proactive. This is especially true if you are to keep emails from getting in the way of your other day-to-day responsibilities. Here are my 4 steps to success:

1. Write efficiently
Always try to be precise and to the point when answering emails - without sacrificing clarity or basic courtesy, of course. You can also save time by copy-and-pasting relevant parts of past messages. No one will notice, don’t worry…

2. Folders are your best friends
I personally create folders for everything: paper folders for hard copies, digital folders for soft copies. Everything gets its own place. Folders can even be used to separate work that needs to be done right away from less urgent projects.

3. Do it NOW!
Emails that stay in your inbox for more than a few days will often end up staying there for much longer. This then forces you to write an uncomfortable "I'm so sorry to get back to you so late" message (we’ve all been there).

My rule is: if an email is opened, it must then either be a) replied to, b) filed away, or c) deleted. And if I can’t act on one of them right away, I always make sure to keep it marked as “unread” – just to keep the pressure on...

4. Tomorrow is another day
Take some time at the end of each day to review and clean up your inbox. File every email into the appropriate folder, highlight the items you still need to address and delete the ones you don’t need anymore. If possible, I try not to leave the office without deciding which unanswered emails I will commit to taking care of the next day.

I hope this helps! Stay tuned for the third installment of Organization 101: Orderly Work Space = Productivity

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great tips! I have already started using more paper folders for hard copies after reading this post - and seem to be more focussed and getting more done in the day!