4 Guidelines to Help You Get to Zero in Your Inbox Faster and Easier
I love working with enthusiastic, motivated professionals. At the request of one of my clients, a lawyer in Baltimore, I worked with one of his associates – a young, energetic member of the firm.
I taught him the task management portion of Taskology™ first and shortly thereafter we focused on e-mail management. His Inbox had He more than 2,000 e-mails when we started and at the end of our appointment, he was down to zero.
As I was teaching him the strategies for this part of Taskology™ (including how to keep your Inbox low or at zero all the time) it reminded me to share some tips with you to make sure you’re on the right track when it comes to managing your e-mail – one of those tools you think is a friend one day and an enemy the next.
Here are 4 guidelines to remember so you can get to zero in your Inbox faster and easier…
1. Your Inbox is NOT a file cabinet, nor a To-Do list: Your Inbox is meant to bring e-mail IN. It’s not meant to live there forever and ever. What comes in must go back out again. It’s no different than the physical inbox on your desk or your voice mail. All of this information is not supposed to accumulate. It’s meant to keep flowing forward to its next temporary station or permanent location.
2. E-mail can be clutter too: Just like paper and files on your desk, your e-mail can build up and become clutter, too. So remember this: “Clutter is unmade decisions.” You’re avoiding or deferring decisions when you let your many inboxes fill up with stuff. E-mail is meant to be read, unless you know immediately it’s trash or spam. Otherwise read it, then STOP. Make a decision about the content of the e-mail and its usefulness to you. Then move it forward to the next place of action or reference.
3. E-mail can be saved elsewhere for long-term storage: Sometimes it’s true… you have to hold on to e-mail forever due to legal, financial or regulatory reasons. However, that doesn’t mean these e-mails are best kept in your Inbox OR in your most used e-mail folders list, especially if they’re old or getting older by the minute. These kinds of e-mails (and the attachments, too) are best kept in your e-document library, whether that’s in your hard drive or in the cloud. Another alternative is the e-mail Archive.
4. E-mail folders are useful in the short term: E-mail folders are handy for work in progress or short-term future reference, but keep the final destination of the information in mind. If you’re meant to be saving all client information, including e-mails and attachments, for example, in your hard drive according to company guidelines or as hard copies in a file drawer, then don’t use e-mail folders as a stepping stone “for now” if the information is really meant to be stored somewhere else on a more permanent basis. You’ll save time by getting this information there right away. Only use e-mail folders for short-term information that will eventually be deleted or generally archived because the need for finding it again is low.
By: Leslie Shreve, MyCity4Her Enterprise Expert
Leslie Shreve is a productivity expert, founder of Productive Day and the creator of Taskology™ The Science of Getting Things Done. Since 2003, Leslie has been teaching business owners, executives and motivated professionals how to get more clarity and control in their work day so they can enjoy more time, freedom, focus and success. For more information or to get started on the road to peak productivity, visit www.productiveday.com or e-mail email@example.com today.