I distinctly remember when I got my first smartphone in 2008, standing in line at Target and realizing I could check to see if an e-mail I sent before leaving the office had been responded to. As I pulled up my inbox on my phone, I thought, “Oh my goodness, why am I checking my e-mail at Target??”
These days, I habitually do it without even thinking while brushing my teeth, driving (I know…) and standing in line. It’s the day we live in, and it’s a stress our mother’s didn’t have. So, it’s time for some tips on keeping that inbox under control:
1. Delete — Delete all unread or unresponded to e-mails after 30 days.
It sounds incredibly cut-throat, but if it was important enough to get to in the last month, you would have. You simply don’t have time to respond to every request that comes in, and I promise, when you finally do hit delete, you will feel tremendous relief! (Need more courage? Read here!)
2. Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe, Unsubscribe
When you read a great blog or trade article, it’s easy to feel like you’re missing something if you don’t continue to get content from them, so we subscribe for updates and they arrive….day after day…filling your inbox, demanding time and mental energy to sort and delete. It’s time to unsubscribe. To everything. Rest assured that you’re not going to miss the latest trend, update or how to, and know that that information will be available when you need it. It’s all there waiting 24/7 on the great interweb!
3. File — As with your office, everything must have a home, and your inbox is no different.
If a message can’t be deleted or needs to be kept, it must have a clearly and intuitively marked folder to go in. Your inbox is not your e-mail archive. Well structured folders will let you trust the the information will be right where you put it when you need it.
4. Schedule It — This is a concept that most of us don’t have the restraint to do, but if you really want to limit your stress?
Only check your e-mail at one or two set points throughout the day (and especially NOT when you’re driving or in line). Being free from the constant tyranny of the urgent will reduce stress and limit interruptions, making you more productive and present in the moment.
Most of us can’t be helped when it comes to checking your e-mail everywhere and all the time, but if we can at least manage the constant inflow, we’ll all be a little less stressed and more productive!
Oh! And if you haven’t read my other Secret to Staying on Top of Your Email Inbox, this is a HUGE help as well!