Hey guys! Remember when I told you that Meg came over to help me get my inboxes under control? She has written a guest post to share all her tips. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go get my inbox back to this beautiful message.
There’s nothing quite like the relief of opening your inbox and seeing just a few items… Or even better, the elusive “no new mail.” Here’s a few tips for taming in the inbox monster. Set aside an hour or so to get it under control once, and then these tips will help for daily maintenance.
Unsubscribe from as many newsletters or sale-mails as you can. If you really want to read it, you can go to their blog/website. If you want to keep sale promo emails for future reference, create a filter so they skip the inbox and get auto archived. This will cut down on impulse buys too.
Try to: deal with it, delegate it or delete it right away.
- Deal with it: answer with one or two lines. If you keep your emails short, responses will be shorter and you’ll both spend less time dealing with emails.
- Delegate it: if you don’t have a personal assistant (ha!) this just means put it on your calendar or to do list, then archive it. (I use the reminder app on my phone as a to do list – you can set an alarm for a certain day and time.)
- Delete it. Be ruthless.
- Create auto filters for emails you don’t need to read immediately but can come back to and deal with as a batch task. Have them skip the inbox and designate a time on your calendar to deal with them all at once. Examples this works well with: Blog comments, product giveaway/offer requests, emails about an on-going project.
- If you’re procrastinating a reply, make sure it’s not just because you want to say “no” to someone’s request and are tap dancing around it. Remind yourself that if it were you, you’d rather have someone say no than leave you hanging. Plus saying no feels amazing.
(When saying no, keep it brief, be kind and avoid overcompensating with long explanations or offers to “do it next time” – unless you really want to do it next time.)
- Delete emails that are over 2 months old and waiting for a reply. They will send it again if it’s important. (Unless it’s like, um, hey when are you going to pay your half of the rent? Those emails you should answer, no matter how old they are.)
- Set aside time for the newsy, juicy, catching up with your besties emails. Email is a tool for getting things done but it’s also an amazing way to bridge the distance between far away friends. Whether its a quick reply to wish a best friend luck on a new job interview or pouring yourself a glass of wine and savoring an email chain from your 5 best friends, not all email has to be dealt with efficiently. (I force myself to wait and read “good” email on the elliptical. It keeps me on there longer and it’s more engaging than a Glamour interview with Tay Swift.)
If you’ve never touched your inbox and there are thousands upon thousands of emails in there, these same tips apply but your initial clean out will take more work. Start by scanning just the last MONTH’S worth of email and see if any of the 3 d’s (deal, delegate, delete) apply. Any older than a month and it’s likely it’s irrelevant. Or do 2 months if a month makes you squeamish. Then tackle the rest: you can either auto archive all of it – it’s still there if you need it. Or batch delete – do a search for reoccurring senders (ex: pottery barn, your favorite life coach’s newsletter, your mom) and delete or archive as appropriate. Take advantage of gmails huge storage space – keep it archived but out of sight.
Trust yourself that if its important, you’ll know how to find it in your archives. An overflowing inbox can make you feel anxious and overwhelmed every time you open your mail – which, if you’re like me, is approximately 329 times a day. It might seem like a small victory but obtaining inbox nirvana can have big mental payoffs.
And who knows, maybe you’ll feel motivated to tackle your closet next…
See, this Meg girl is smart. You should buy her book.
What are your tips for keeping your inbox under control? Or if you don’t have it under control (yet!!), please tell me and make me feel like I’m not alone.