This six-step strategy is a good guide for organizing:
Step 1. Scan and delete emails down to “actionable” items
Scan your emails and if you can delete them without anticipating future regrets, do so. As you scan, with each one, ask yourself, “Can I safely delete this?” “Will I want to take an action on this later?” (For example: to read them fully, reply, ponder or schedule.) Always be clear on why emails are left in your inbox.
I don’t believe in the, “Drive your inbox down to zero” strategy. When you reduce your inbox down to the potentially actionable items, it provides a good up to date to-do list. It allows you to focus on what needs done.
Decluttering down to only potentially actionable items also allows you to decide what you truly don’t want to respond to at all – rather than missing things by default – because you forgot to get back to your emails and process them. In this busy world, it’s important to be clear on what to respond to now, and what you may want to respond to later.
This process allows you to engage in more conscious living. You’re making informed decisions, rather than running late or reacting to things at the last minute. If these things are happening, you’re probably not organizing yourself effectively.
Step 2. Respond immediately
When scanning and organizing emails, respond immediately to those that can be answered quickly. Also, immediately record any corresponding events on your calendar. Don’t try to hold event details in your head with the idea that you’ll get back to them and record them later. After taking these actions, remove the email from your inbox.
I’ll share how to create folders for reference and archives – and other strategies and tips for effective email organizing – next month. See you then! 🙂