- Email: Treat your email in-box like you would your regular mail box.
- As soon as you open your email in-box, clear the clutter! If this was paper mail, you would
i. immediately toss the stuff you don’t need;
ii. scan the stuff you probably don’t need and then get rid of that too; then
iii. have a few things left that require a read or a response.
- These are the steps to take for email, too!
- Immediately remove advertisements and daily newsletters you will not read or use today (don’t worry, they will come again tomorrow).
- Delete or change Subscriptions:
- These days, most newsletters have an UnSubscribe option; so Unsubscribe if you don’t need the information; or
- Change your subscription options, like requesting all the correspondence from one source in a digest or bundled form. I receive daily digests from 2 list-servs, instead of individual emails every time someone has a comment. This really helps clear my in-box clutter!
- Sort your in-box in reverse chronological order, so the newest emails are always listed first.
- Use Folders for your opened mail, and Leave only active “To Do”s in your in-box:
- Be specific in naming your folders. I have a few folders dedicated to my presentations: “Ideas” for classes I want to create, and “Correspondence” regarding classes I have already set up. Very different information, so two separate folders.
- Realize folders can be added and deleted, as events come and go. Create a “Holidays Logistics” or “Office Party” folder for all things holiday related, and then purge the whole folder in January.
- File items for retrieval:
- Create folders for projects or people: for example, Newsletter Info To Share, Presentation Correspondence, Presentation Ideas, Travel Info, Expense Reports, or Shopping Ideas.
- When you’re ready to tackle these projects, all the information is together.
- Questions in the Subject line: My spouse and I may email many times in a day, and we use the Subject line as our email content (Subject Line: “Late meeting, home at 6 pm”, or “Class to teach at 7 pm”), similar to Instant Messaging (which I will not put on my laptop, in the interest of time management!).
- “No Need to Reply”. An extremely organized friend uses this in her correspondence. Often, we send an email for purely informational purposes, to keep folks “in the loop”, so to speak. Adding this note at the beginning or end of your email tells your reader that they can respond, if necessary, but that they don’t need to, thus freeing their time and your in-box!
- If you currently have only one email address for personal and professional, and you find that it fills up quickly, consider a second free email address, like Gmail, to use for newsletters and advertisements that you don’t want to look at every day.
- Maintain your Clean In-box from day to day, and clean out the Folders a few times a year.
Colleen Klimczak is a certified professional organizer whose business is located in the South suburbs of Chicago. For more information, visit www.PeaceOfMindPO.com. You can also visit her Blog at http://colleencpo.wordpress.com and become her Facebook friend at My FaceBook Page