Email plays an important role in our daily lives, whether it’s personal or business. And we all get tons of emails whether we want them or not. When we use it appropriately, email is an incredibly useful communication tool. But, many of us feel overwhelmed by the amount of email that we receive and need to respond to.
Whether you’re catching up from last week, working through a post-vacation backlog, or just clearing out junk, taking time to organize your email will help you work more efficiently. Not keeping your email organized can create challenges for you during the day, which may compound over time:
- We can't find that important message: - It's always a terrible experience to miss an important email or not be able to locate a specific message in the mess that we call our “Inbox”.
- An overflowing Inbox can be a big distraction: The amount of time and effort to navigate a disorganized Inbox or email account will make you less productive. Spending excess time searching for specific messages will make you less focused on the important tasks and people that you really need to attend to.
- No longer receive messages: All email accounts have set maximum disk space limit. If emails are left on the email server indefinitely, your email Inbox may get full. Email messages with attachments take up more space than emails containing only plain text. So, your email account will fill more quickly if you have a lot of messages with attachments. Once your email account has reached its maximum limit, your email account will not accept new messages.
Here are some steps to take to get control of your email account:
- Purging messages: Start by sorting your emails by sender. This will help you identify the messages you no longer need and the ones you have already responded to. Go through the messages quickly and delete as much as you can. But, don’t let yourself get bogged down by any one message. Messages that are candidates for quick deletion are solicitations from vendors, stores or shopping sites, contain expired coupons and invitations, and from senders you don't know.
- Organize your existing messages into folders:
- "Follow up" where you’ll file the messages you need more than a few minutes to respond to.
- "Hold" for messages that refer to an event in the future, like an invitation.
- "Archive" for those messages you’ve responded to and want to keep a record of. For additional organization, you can have sub-folders under "Archive" by category, sender, etc.
- Going forward, move new messages into these categories based on the matching folder, and then get rid of everything else. Once you respond to the "Follow up" and "Hold" messages, delete those too.
- Create rules and filters: Most email systems allow you to create rules or filters that will act upon incoming messages even before you see them. You can instruct your email system to route messages into specific folders (or delete messages) based on the sender's email address, keyword content, and other criteria.
- Spam: Flagging unwanted messages in you Inbox as spam will cause your email system to treat similar massages as spam in the future. Check your spam folder frequently. Delete the messages that are truly spam.
- Trash Folder; Your email system usually moves deleted messages in a "Trash" folder. While no longer in your Inbox, those messages are still in your email system hogging valuable space. Delete the messages in your Trash folder to permanently delete. then and recoup the space Better yet, change the setting on your Trash folder to auto delete.
- Export and save important attachments: Download and save important attachments to your desktop or server. Then, delete those messages with the attachment from your email account.
- Tweak your social media profile notification settings: Most social media sites have the ability for you to control the frequency and content for when the sites send you messages. Doing so will reduce the number of email messages you receive.
- Export messages that you must keep: Doing so will enable you to remove the messages from your email system. But, you will maintain the messages in a file outside of your email system for posterity.
Taking control of your Inbox isn’t a once-and-done job. But, maintaining order doesn’t have to be complicated or a pain. Once you put the processes in place that work best for you, it won’t take long to turn your process into habit.
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