If you don’t have a system for dealing with your emails, your inbox can quickly and easily get out of control. Thankfully, with several search functions, finding an email is not impossible; however, it’s smart to organize the influx of emails before the number flooding your inbox becomes overwhelming.
With many of us receiving dozens or even hundreds of emails daily, developing a system for dealing with it is a must. Here are some simple ways you can keep yourself from having emails pile up.
Discard certain emails immediately after reading
If you’ve read an email and have no need to reread it or act on it, trash it immediately. Also, set up your email so that the trash is emptied regularly (or, go in on a weekly basis and empty it manually).
Keep in mind that we don’t need to read every email immediately. If you find yourself distracted by your email, don’t keep yours open; instead, schedule three to five check-in times during your work day.
Leave emails that require action in your inbox
If an email must be replied to or requires action, then leave it in your inbox as a reminder. For particularly important ones, set flags, so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. (Although, this is less likely given your inbox will be soon be more streamlined!)
Then decide on a standard deadline for the emails remaining in your inbox — perhaps a week to a month. At the end of each week, go through your inbox and ensure that the reply or action is completed, so that you may delete the email from your inbox.
File away other emails promptly
If there are emails you’ve acted on but which you’ll need to refer to in the future, file them in the appropriate folders. You will need to put some thought into what type of folder system will work best for you. It is easy for filed emails to quickly get out of control, so consider creating folders that are subdivided by date so that you can easily delete entire folders that are no longer timely. There are some email tools that allow you to have incoming emails filed directly into folder, too — consider setting this up if you feel this function will serve you well in the manner in which you work.