The world can be chaotic at times, and that chaos can easily cause you to become disorganized. This disorganization can then, in turn, spill into countless areas of your life.
Like your email inbox.
Of course, not having an organized inbox is problematic in an increasingly digital and remote world, where prioritizing your email is essential to professional success. (Yet, it can also be detrimental to your stress levels if you feel like you are checking it all day long.) While you may have all the best intentions when it comes to managing your inbox, even the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
If you find yourself with a consistently disorganized email inbox despite all efforts, you may be unsure just how to right that ship. But being unsure doesn’t mean you’re helpless, and with the proper steps, obtaining an organized inbox is well within your reach.
Five Simple Strategies to Effectively Maintain an Organized Inbox
Obtaining an organized inbox may be challenging, but it’s absolutely doable. Here are five simple and effective strategies that can help you clean your inbox, and maintain that organized look moving forward.
- Work in Batches of Time Without Checking Email – If you’re struggling to keep your inbox organized, you may be overwhelmed by an open ended approach. Some people are successful in only checking email during specific and scheduled times of day, such as first thing in the morning, after lunch, and end of day. If that practice is not realistic for you, try checking email less frequently. Are you able to work in batches of, say forty-minutes, without checking email and then check it briefly to ensure nothing has been missed?
- Create Separate Emails for Your Personal and Business Affairs – This can help those of you who use the same email address for personal and professional purposes. Having a separate email for each area of your life can alleviate some inherent disorganization, allowing you to keep professional emails organized and separated from personal ones. This way, your important client communication is not being diluted by a coupon for household needs.
- Help Set the Culture for Your Company’s Practice for Communication – Are you and your colleagues using the best form of communication for specific desired outcomes? Remote and hybrid teams have shifted to include more methods of communication. While one would think that would make collaboration more efficient, in many cases, it has created an environment of inefficient communications. Instant internal communications, such as Slack or Teams, can be beneficial for quick questions, brief clarification, and water cooler chats. Requests and assignments are better kept via email to reduce too many digital mediums in which we are tracking action items.
- Utilize Folders and Labels in Your Email – Rather than keeping all of your emails in your inbox, try organizing them in various folders or with labels. It is much easier to maintain an organized inbox when you organize your emails by person or project, and can help ensure your emails aren’t lost in the shuffle. Many email users fear that once an email is moved to Folders or Labels, then they will forget about that email. However, as many know the hard way, we can’t possible remember every email in our inbox and, even filed away, the emails are still searchable.
- Don’t Sign Up for Unnecessary or Unused Email Subscriptions – It may have seemed like a harmless proposition when you signed up for weekly emails and updates from this website, that motivational speaker, or that musician. But your inbox can quickly become flooded with unnecessary emails, bogging down your efforts towards organization. Whenever you realize you are receiving an email subscription you no longer need or want, first unsubscribe then filter similar messages and delete all at once.
Each of these recommendations have proven beneficial in organizing previously disorganized inboxes. But if you still find your inbox is out of control, you may need more assistance.
If you’re ready to achieve the realistic goal of “Inbox Zen” and learn how to spend purposeful and intentional time with your inbox so that it serves you the way you need it to, sign up for a free webinar to learn more about the ARTT™ Email Productivity course. I will personally introduce a new way of thinking about email, show you step-by-step how to conquer your inbox, and build a routine that causes less stress and allows you to get more done each day.