Suffering with Email overwhelm?? Here’s my Top 7 Tips to email success

It freaks me out when my clients tell me they have 1000’s of emails in their inbox – and it’s not even my inbox!  When you are not on top of your emails you feel out of control.  I know how I feel and that’s when I have just 50 emails to get through! Not fun and massively impacts my productivity.

Your inbox is NOT a place to keep things like reminders, it’s not part of your To Do list and it’s not a filing cabinet!

Tip 1 – Schedule an inbox declutter. This always removes a great deal of the overwhelm.

In the search box type ‘Unsubscribe’ – this brings up all the newsletters you are subscribed too. Now you have a couple of options here.  Choose which you are most comfortable with:

  • Mark them all and hit DELETE (you have not unsubscribed, just deleted the ones sat there doing nothing but adding to your stress levels)
  • Create a new email folder called ‘Newsletters’ and move them all to this folder so that they are OUT of your inbox. You can set yourself times in the week to go through newsletters but for now just move them all in to this new ‘Newsletter’ folder. And breathe!

Mini challenge: Unsubscribe from 3 newsletters you have in your inbox that you haven’t read for months. DO THIS NOW!

Value Bomb: Set up a separate email address to subscribe to newsletters with.  This way they don’t clog up your daily inbox and you can schedule times of the week when you can sit down with a cuppa and process these separately. Also see Tip 6.

Tip 2 – Turn off Email notifications.

Does an alert pop up every time you receive a new email?  This is massively impacting your productivity. You were in the middle of being focused on one thing (the right thing – until that email popped in distracting you)

Mini challenge: Turn off notifications NOW.  Email alerts are highly distracting.

 

Tip 3 – Set Inbox boundaries

There is nothing in your inbox that has to be dealt with within 5 – 10 minutes of arrival.  If it was that urgent the sender would phone you, wouldn’t they??!  I would suggest only checking your emails 2-3 times a day, at pre agreed times allowing a 30 minute slot to action anything urgent. When you are not checking emails log out to avoid being distracted and sneaking a peak. Successful people don’t check emails ALL the time!

Value Bomb: Use the Pomodoro Technique for your daily email slots – short 25 minute bursts of email activity only, 2-3 times a day.  Watch this 2 min video for more info: http://pomodorotechnique.com/

 

Tip 4 – Create a filing system

Your inbox is not a place to save useful info, things you might like to refer back to etc.  Set up folders for these things so that they can be removed from your inbox, but are still accessible if you need to refer back. Keep your filing system simple and use it as soon as you have dealt with an email.

 

Tip 5 – Have a strict ‘email processing system’

So now you know that you will only be checking and processing emails at 10.00 and 14.00 (or the times you have selected that suit you) and that you only have 25-30 mins per allocated slot you need to make sure you have an efficient process for addressing your emails.

‘Process’ each email that you open in the following way:

  • Delete immediately if appropriate
  • Action in your 25 – 30 min email session if it can be dealt with within 2 minutes or is urgent. Then delete or file
  • File if it’s something that’s for future reference ie newsletters or useful info (and see Tip 6)
  • Add a task to your To Do list and file email if it’s bigger than a 2 minute job

Value Bomb – if you are an Asana user you can forward to ‘[email protected]’ and it will be added as a task on your account

 

Tip 6 – Use email ‘rules’

For regular invoices or receipts that come into my inbox I have them set up with a rule so that they go straight into my ‘Finances’ folder and will be picked up on my weekly / monthly financials review.  Also all my newsletters have rules and they also go straight into my ‘To Read’ folder on arrival rather than cluttering up my inbox. I then have set times throughout the week when I can read through these.

Mini challenge: Each time a newsletter comes into your inbox, set up a new rule for it there and then so all future emails from that sender will go to your new ‘Newsletter’ folder.  If you haven’t discovered email rules, you’re missing a trick.

 

Tip 7 – Use the automatic replies and out of office features to your advantage

If you are really worried that not checking your emails constantly will mean you miss something uber urgent then set up an out of office reply. You can get creative here but something like ‘I’m busy with X, Y, Z at the moment.  If your email is urgent then please give me a call on 1234 5689’.

(Oh and if it all feels too overwhelming – create a new folder called ‘Old emails TODAY’S DATE and prior’ and move everything into that folder.  It’s gone but not deleted – anything urgent will come back to you have no fear!)

As a recap – the 7 top tips for managing email overwhelm are:

Tip 1Schedule an inbox declutter

Tip 2 – Turn off Email notifications.

Tip 3 – Set Inbox boundaries

Tip 4 – Create a filing system

Tip 5 – Have a strict email processing system

Tip 6 – Use email ‘rules’

Tip 7 – Use the automatic replies and out of office features

 

What structures can you start implementing right now to put yourself on the right path to email freedom?

 

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