Most of us get hundreds of emails per day across multiple email addresses. It is hard not to lose messages in the shuffle. How can you stay on top of so much information without missing key details? Believe it or not, you can not only keep your inbox organized, but you can also actually use it as a key tool to help you stay on top of critical to do’s.

 

 

It is not as difficult or time consuming as it may seem. It requires a simple technique to quickly filter the information and organize it in categories so that what you need is where you can easily find it when you want it.

How to Best Organize Your Inbox

When you utilize this method, your email becomes a tool for prioritization as well as a useful database of information you need.

Empty it Out

First, you must commit to only keep items that require action in your inbox. If you that have 15,000 old emails sitting in your inbox, this can sound like the last thing on Earth you want to do. Hear me out. Start with taking all those old emails and putting them into a folder called “Archive”. Move EVERYTHING into that folder. There you go. You have got a clean inbox.

Sort Incoming Items

For all new incoming emails, the first time you read through them, quickly determine what where they need to go. The goal is to move each email on the first touch:

If no action is needed, read through it, and archive it or delete it.

  • • If you never need to see the message again, click delete. If you have emails that you repeatedly get from a source that do not provide value, unsubscribe or mark as spam. It will give you peace of mind.
  • • For everything that you may want to refer to at some future point in time, move it to your Archive folder. Make sure to make this folder a favorite so it’s very easy to put emails into quickly.

If action is needed, keep it in your inbox.

  • • For any item that requires action, give it a category. Categories are helpful so that you can quickly navigate the list of emails you have pending. Staring at these few remaining emails will prompt you to act.
  • • On your calendar, carve out a period of time for each category to focus and progress on these items as a batch.
  • • Determine the maximum number of messages you are willing to keep. I recommend keeping the minimum possible; no more than 25-50. If you have more than that, delegate or let go of the least meaningful pending items.

That’s It! Helpful Tricks:

  • Follow Up. If you send an email out that you want to make sure you get a response on, BCC yourself and keep it in your inbox.
  • Templates. If you send emails repeatedly now and again create a “Templates” folder and save a copy there. From time to time you make improvements.
  • Posts. Try using the posts feature to leave yourself quick little notes in your inbox where you will see them. I LOVE them! They are great because they are easy to find, you can edit them, and they stay right in your inbox for action until you are done with them.
  • Employees. If you have employees you manage, you can create a folder with each person’s name to keep track of assignments. Keep a copy of the request and any useful information that you’ll want to see when I review her work. This will remind you of all the things you have asked that person to do that you want to make sure you see progress on. Prior to your weekly meetings, scan it to see if there is anything in there you want to talk about.

Your inbox could be a tool that empowers you to be unstoppable. When partnered with timeboxes, you have a place for everything, and everything is in its place.