Continuing from last month’s post, here are more steps for effective email organizing strategies:
Step 3. Create and use folders for reference and archives
If you believe you will need an email for reference some day, move it out of your inbox and into a
folder. Keep your emails organized and accessible by creating aptly named repositories for them. Name the folders by the first thing you think of when characterizing the email into one simple category. For example, use the name of your bank, the name of your insurance company, or perhaps “Recipes” or “Travel Ideas.”
Don’t worry about the name of the folders making sense to anyone else; organize them in a way that makes sense to you. (Unless someone else uses your email and you need your organizing to be in sync with them.)
And if there are items you’ll want to read later, you may wish to create a folder labeled “1 READ THESE.” The ‘1’ will put the folder at the top of the list where it’s more visible. Also, schedule time on your calendar; otherwise you’ll probably forget to return to them.
Step 4. Leave them and ponder, then act
Leave only “actionable” items in your inbox. However don’t leave more than a couple dozen, otherwise it gets unwieldy.
There are two categories: those you’ll probably respond to sometime soon, and those you’ll give more thought, and perhaps respond to some time later.
If something is time sensitive, flag it for follow up.
The key is to get back to your inbox on a regular basis and carry out these organizing steps. If you find that time passes and you’re not organizing your emails often enough, schedule time on your calendar to do so. And follow through. However, don’t be rigid. If you find that you don’t have the energy or focus to process the emails at the time you scheduled, then reschedule – just make sure and follow through.
Pay attention to your energy. It’s essential to have that plus the time and focus to process emails, otherwise you won’t be as productive as you might, because you’ll be working in “diminishing returns.”
Step 5. Unsubscribe
Take time to get off email lists that you don’t find value in any longer. This small investment in time will save you a lot of time and energy.
Step 6. Engage in bulk decluttering if necessary
If you have a lot of unopened and/or unprocessed emails, the best strategy is to schedule a block of uninterrupted time to focus on them and engage in “bulk decluttering.” Group by category, scan and delete by date. And remember – sometimes things just take a little self-discipline and “mental elbow grease.” 🙂
If it’s a hardship for you to work through your email inbox, reward yourself for your effort in some healthy way. And, it may benefit you to hire a professional organizer to help you through the process.