Like you, I get overwhelmed with emails coming from everywhere!
So I thought I’d check in with a few of my professional organizer friends & discover some super secret magic trick to solve it all… like a magic pill!
Boo hoo… no such luck.
Just like everything else, there is no magic pill that makes it all go away J
All is NOT lost though.
There are lots of little tricks you can use to make your life so much easier when it comes to your inbox.
Let’s back up for a second & take a look at typical email habits & setups:
You keep your email program open all the time and check messages constantly throughout the day. Maybe you handle them right away. Maybe you wait until later. If you’re saving them for later, you probably go back through your inbox occasionally, looking through all the messages to find the ones you still need to handle & it’s hit or miss whether you’re going to remember to take action.
Maybe you have different folders where you manually put messages you want to read later or follow up on. You might even have a few rules set up to sort them automatically. I used to have different email addresses I’d give out for newsletter subscriptions. That didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped by the way, for a variety of reasons. Again, it’s hit or miss whether you follow up promptly.
Uggh!!! So what do you do???
One of my professional organizer friends, Amber De La Garza with Organizational Elements, is giving us her best tips. She has an amazingly simple, 3 part, structure for your inbox.
You use 3 Folders & the “Rules” for your email program.
- Create a “Waiting For Follow Up” Folder
Here’s how you use this…
Blind copy or “bcc” yourself on any message you SEND where you’re asking someone else to take action.
Set up a RULE to automatically send these messages to that folder.
Check this folder once a week to check up on the progress. (I suggest you schedule yourself a weekly appointment or task right in your calendar to check this folder… even if you think you’ll just remember, you won’t do it consistently unless it’s on your schedule. You could also schedule a reminder to check it at a different time if there is a due date for your task. For example, it you need a response by next Tuesday, schedule a reminder to check on that task & you know the details are your “Waiting” folder)
If you need to resend a reminder, you can use your copy of the initial request.
- Create a “To Read” Folder
This is for non time sensitive emails (like newsletters, educational resources and professional resources) that you’d like to read, just not right now. Amber suggest you read these when you have time scheduled for reading or when you have idle time, such as waiting for an appointment.
Again, Set up a RULE to move these messages automatically.
I actually chose to sort my “To Read” folder into subcategories as well so I could more easily find what I want to read.
- Create a “Someday/Maybe” Folder
Use this folder for emails that spark your creative juices or sound like a good idea that you don’t want to forget. This allows you to keep the information for future reference without cluttering up your inbox.
I absolutely LOVE Ambers structure because she’s keeping it super simple… and I am all about keeping it SIMPLE.
I have a few more folders than this because I looked at the kind of email I was getting & set up rules to sort all the low priority messages out of my inbox. For example, account notifications, receipts and information I want to archive now all gets sorted automatically.
I created most of my rules in Microsoft Outlook by using the option to find specific words or phrases in the HEADER because with this structure I was able to add multiple senders or other criteria in the same rule. This way I could create only one rule to send message from different sources into the same folder.
You will need to learn the techy part of running rules in whatever email program you use. Search the help file for your particular email program and you’ll most likely find the steps to do what you need to.
I also use my delete button liberally with email & go through my messages periodically and ruthlessly unsubscribe to anything I’m no longer reading. Neither of those was easy at first because I was afraid I’d miss something… I got over it
Thank you again Amber, for your fantastically simple structure.
Here’s her website for more from Amber: http://organizational-elements.com/
I know her tips helped me clean up my email inbox!!! They will help you too.