It’s easy to be inundated by the emails we get - work communication, newsletters, event alerts, subscriptions, spam, etc – that our productivity falters as a result of it.
Thus, it is important to take stock of them and regain control of our inbox because they should facilitate the flow of our work and communication and not hamper it.
1. Disable notifications
Although it seems pretty harmless in noticing that a new item has arrived in our inbox, a case study by Loughborough University found that it takes an average of 64 seconds for us to fully switch back to what we were previously working on. Extrapolate that 64 seconds to the number of emails you receive in a week, a month or a year and it’s obvious that the “interruption” time adds up dramatically.
Unless that particular email demands an instant response, it’s best to just check your emails twice or thrice a day.
2. Unsubscribe from junk mail
According to a study conducted by a San Francisco-based email software productivity company, deleting an email a day for a year will cost over 30 minutes.
It’s way more effective to prevent junk mail from arriving in the first place than to spend time weeding them out from the important ones. Also, when unimportant emails are mixed up with the important ones, it’s easy to end up losing track on what needs to be acted on.
3. Learn how to search email
Sorting out your mail and placing them in respective folders is good, but being able to search for them is even better. Read about the various search terms and functions from your email provider.
4. Archive them
Visualise separating your emails into 3 categories: unread, important and not so important (does not require immediate attention).
Create an archive folder for the not-so-important ones and this leaves your inbox only with unread and important emails.
5. Clear older messages
Once you have this system in place for managing new incoming emails, it’s time to sort out those messages which have been received before you started.
Emails which are older than 30 days can be assigned to the archives folder. And if you need to retrieve them, then look them up in that folder or through a simple search.
All in all, a well managed and organised inbox should not get in the way of your work, but give you space to pursuit your endeavours. Whenever a new email comes in, think: respond, archive or delete.
How are you managing your emails right now?