Day 13: Let the Air Out of Your Inbox

Today is Day 13 of the 30 Days to Less Stuff and More Life Challenge. If you want to jump in, go get the book at Amazon, Simple Living – 30 days to less stuff and more life.

Today, we’re looking at how to tame email.  Lorilee suggests three:                                                                                                                                                                      steps:

  1. Limit what comes in.
  2. Speed up what goes out.
  3. Organize what stays.

Limiting what comes in involves at least two separate issues.  One is spam.  Not the kind in a can.  Spam is unwanted, unsolicited email from nefarious people who live and breath to think of new ways to send out more email you don’t want.  Most email programs have some sort of spam filtering, but rest assured the spammers will figure out ways around the filters as fast as updates come out.  It’s a vicious cycle, and you’re caught in the middle.  All I can say, is make sure you have a good spam filter in place for when (not if) you start getting inundated.  Also, never, EVER give out your email address to people you don’t want to get email from.  Setup a separate account for anything else, such as online purchases, etc.  This is a complicated issue, and one I discuss in a post on my business website, www.helpmetechservices.com.

I review the emails in my inbox several times a day and delete everything I don’t want.  I read and address everything that needs to be done right away, such as work emails.  And the rest, such as blog subscriptions and to-do emails stay in my inbox.  I gradually work my way through blog subscriptions as I have time, like waiting for my kids during piano lessons.  To-do emails are reminders of work-in-process or upcoming appointments.  I keep them in my inbox until they are done.  My goal is to keep my inbox around 40 emails.  Some people will think that’s a lot.  Others will think that’s unreasonably small.  It’s all about perspective.

Once you get past a few hundred emails, searching for one email is like looking for a needle in a haystack.  I  have a friend who routinely has 1,000 emails in his inbox.  To him and people like him, I say, “file it!”  Create folders for projects, contacts, blogs, issues, etc.  File emails that relate together.  This makes it so much easier to quickly look up an email.  If you haven’t dealt with an email within a few months, you probably never will.  Delete or file old email and move on.

Email has a way of bogging you down.  It’s a great way to communicate quickly and easily, but after several emails back and forth you’ll find the conversation starts getting convoluted.  Pick up the phone and settle the issue.

Letting your inbox get bloated makes checking your email depressing, so keeping it cleaned up enhances productivity and mood.  I say grab a broom and start sweeping, or deleting, in this case.

How do you handle your email?

Georganne

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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