Email is a great way to stay in contact with potential and existing customers. It really has become an essential part of doing business on the internet. Because email is so easy to use, it’s also easy to find yourself overwhelmed with the number of email messages you receive every day.
This clutter can become a real source of stress – especially if your business relies on email. I’ve discovered that if you take an active role in addressing your email clutter, you’ll be able to reduce this stress. You’ll also spend less time dealing with your emails. And you’ll have time left over for more important things (like chilling out and enjoying life).
So this is my 3 step plan to assist in your email clean-up.
1. Prevent Unwanted and Unsolicited Emails.
Major email service providers such as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo Mail have really got very good at identifying and filtering spam email, but you can help them get better. For example, if you’re a Gmail user, click the “Report Spam” button to identify any spam messages that you happen to receive. Hotmail users should use the “Junk” button.
When enough users identify a certain sender’s messages as being junk or spam, then the service will be able to better filter future message from that sender.
One thing – please don’t identify email as spam if you genuinely did ask to receive email updates. In this case use the unsubscribe link in the email to remove yourself from the list. It’s unfair to mark someone’s email as spam when it’s really your own fault for not removing yourself from the senders list!
2. Prioritise Your Incoming Email
One way to reduce future clutter in your inbox is to have a system that can help you prioritise new emails as you receive them. If you can deal with the important emails right away and leave the low priority emails until later, then your inbox won’t get cluttered quite as quickly.
Most email providers give you the ability to create rules or filters by which you can identify emails which come from certain people as being the most important. If you use Gmail, consider giving Gmail’s “Priority Inbox” a try if you haven’t already. This feature does a great job at automatically highlighting the emails you’re likely to find most important.
If you use an email client like Outlook or Thunderbird then you can filter your incoming email. You can prioritise by many different factors such as sender, or subject. By using these labels to identify your incoming mail you can automatically sort your inbox!
3. Organize the Emails You Must Keep, But Delete as Much as Possible
Another key element of this 3 part de-cluttering strategy is to identify the emails you absolutely must keep. Also identify why you must keep them. These include financial communications, such as invoices, paid for newsletters, and communication with outsourcers or employees.
If you’ve already acted on the email but still need to keep it, then get it out of your inbox and into a storage folder or archive. If you don’t need to keep the email, simply delete it.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do is set aside a regular and limited time to review your email. You can say, for example, “I will only read my email for 30 minutes every day at 4.30pm.” By doing this you automatically limit the impact your email has on your life.
If you commute by public transport (obviously not if you’re driving) then you can use commuting time to sort out your inbox. Smart phones and tablets make this more possible now than ever.
Hope this goes some way to releasing you from email tyranny!