Does your inbox ever feel like your enemy? Does it feel relentless and demanding — a never-ending source of stress and overwhelm?
It’s true that your stress level is often directly related to the number of e-mails in your inbox.
And, at the same time, finding time to manage your e-mail isn’t always the top priority on your to-do list.
So, how do you deal with this necessary tool that can also be such an endless source of stress in your life?
This Cyber Monday, I’d like to share 5 simple tips that can help you get your inbox (AND your stress level) down to size. Like your to-do list, your inbox doesn’t have to be unmanageable.
Here are two top-tier tips to get you started:
- Don’t dawdle — decide and move on. Make your choices about received items as quickly as possible. This keeps your inbox from becoming a catch-all. When you receive an e-mail, read it quickly and then either reply immediately, forward it (if you want to share it), save it to another folder (if you want to keep it for future reference), retain it for further action, or delete it.
- You don’t know what you can’t see. It’s important to be able to see everything in your inbox without needing to scroll down. The things that you can’t see have the potential to get lost. The unseen will likely generate stress for you, too. It’s a good idea to clean out your inbox at least once a week, and an even better idea to do it once a day. This may not always be possible, but if you can get it down to even just two or three messages that will be great.
3 More Tips to Power Your Productivity
- Create additional folders, either for storing e-mails that you may need later or for categorizing them for easy retrieval. You may want to create a folder for things to do. Or, you might choose to use your inbox as the place for holding your “things to do.” That way you’ll know that items in your inbox are things that you need to tend to. Once you’ve completed a task, if you still need the e-mail, you can move it to one of your storage folders.
- Remember that in most e-mail systems when you send an e-mail, a copy is retained in your “Sent” folder. Likewise, when you delete something it doesn’t immediately disappear. It is simply moved to your Deleted Items folder. These folders can eventually get to be quite full, and so I recommend that you clean them out regularly. Schedule a time for doing this weekly.
- That two-step process for deletions can actually be quite helpful. If you’re nervous about deleting something, let it stay in your deleted items folder for a longer period of time. Once you’re sure that you don’t need it, you can then delete it from that folder.
If you’re a subscriber to Finding Time Tips, you may have already received some other e-mail management ideas. Managing your inbox is a powerful organizational, time management, and stress-reducing tool.
© Copyright 2017 Paula Eder, Ph.D.