De-Clutter Your E-Mail

DeclutterHow many messages are in your email inbox? It isn’t uncommon for business individuals to receive 100 emails a day. Thousands of emails clog up our inboxes and sent files every year. Necessary, important information co-exists with daily newsletters and office joke emails in a jumbled mess. How do we tame our email which has become an unruly beast? Having too many emails in your inbox, sent box, or deleted box can also slow down your system.

File folders and task list are our friends and allies when conquering email clutter. Even the organizer minimalist can appreciate the basic need of a few file folders: read later, answer later, and junk. To truly get a handle on the email monster, more organization is needed. One option is to create file folders for regular senders such as your boss. Another option is to create file folders for individual projects. Organizing programs also exist to add more organization options to your current email program.

If your current email program allows you to create rules for incoming messages, then designating a folder just became easier and saved you more time. Don’t neglect your sent file when creating rules. If you need a copy of your sent email saved in a file folder, rules can be created for that as well.

Having your email organized is important and needs to be scheduled into your daily routine. Set aside a time when you can work uninterrupted for at least an hour. If your email inbox is overflowing, more time will be needed. Work in blocks of time until you’ve completed the task.

Microsoft suggests the 4Ds when it comes to sorting through your mail. Emails that are just information can be filed under projects or sender. Emails that require action should be sorted by the 4Ds: 

1. Delete it.
2. Do it.
3. Delegate it.
4. Defer it.

Delete it: If you don’t need it, won’t read it, or can locate the same information elsewhere, delete it.

Do it: Can you do it in two minutes? Can you reply to it or take care of it with a two minute phone call?

Delegate it: If you can’t take care of it within two minutes, can you hand it off to someone else to take care of? If you are not the boss or the administrative assistant, then this isn’t an option.

Defer it: If you can’t delete it, can’t do it within two minutes, and can’t delegate it to someone else, then defer it to your task list. Make an appointment to take action on this email.

Work through your email using these tips and watch the unruly beast shrink down to a manageable size.