If you find yourself regularly drowning in emails and never getting the chance to properly stay on top of your inbox, check out these five methods for managing your emails and keeping your inbox organised.
If your emails are overflowing, maybe you could consider an Inbox Zero approach? Coined by 43 Folders creator Merlin Mann, it’s a strategy where you access your email system fewer times per day and manage your individual messages better. By killing them, answering them right away or filing them into a to-do system as tasks, you should then have more time to focus on the other important parts of your work.
Do you find your emails are a distraction when you’re trying to get on with a specific project? Or that you can’t resist the urge to check a new message the moment it arrives? Then perhaps you should install an Inbox Pause button on your mailbox. The idea is that you temporarily stop the flow of email messages into your inbox, so you can check those emails at a designated later time - giving you more control. Alternatively, you could turn off your notifications if you want a less extreme method of avoiding email distractions.
If you find yourself procrastinating over responding to hard or difficult emails, you may want to check out the Yesterbox method. Developed by Zappo’s CEO Tony Hsieh, the idea is that you process yesterday's inbox instead of today's - so you always know how many emails you have to respond to each day and don’t procrastinate on sending a response to a tricky query. And providing it’s not something urgent, you’ll still respond to everything within 24 hours.
If part of your work is to frequently answer the same kinds of questions or send emails with similar text, you may be able to save some of that time and hassle by using a “text expansion” app like Text Expander or Phrase Express. Using these apps, you can program a short phrase to automatically fill in a large amount of text, for example, typing “queryshipping” would automatically “expand” into your full shippping FAQs. Similarly, you could also develop a few canned email responsesthat you can set to answer specific types of messages.
Some emails arrive before they need your attention - for example, the tickets for next month’s conference aren’t important right now, but will be very important the day before. By setting up an “inbox snooze” feature like this one provided by Streak, you’ll be able to hide messages in your inbox until a time you specify in the future, meaning they won’t clog up your inbox in the meantime and will arrive just in time.
What’s your favourite email management technique? Let us know in the comments or let us know on Twitter!