As remote workers continue to work from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many professionals are using this time to better manage their emails.
What are some of the best ways to stay on top of your inbox and make sure that no important messages fall through the cracks? Take a look at some of the tried and true ways I use to manage my inbox.
1. Don’t sit on emails.
It’s easy to sit on emails: letting messages pile up and knowing that you’ll have to devote several hours to responding to these messages. If emails sit, they often sit for too long. This means you either never respond or the response may come too late.
Rather than sit on emails, take action right away. Respond to each one in as timely a manner possible and move on. Don’t let emails linger for too long in your inbox, especially if they’re time sensitive or from a contact you know requires a quick response.
2. Aim for an “under 25” inbox.
If you’re not quite able to maintain a “zero inbox” mentality (where your inbox is at zero by the end of the workday), it may be a more attainable goal to opt for under 25 emails instead.
Keep your email inbox at under 25 emails by the end of the day. Work quickly and efficiently in organizing these responses and clearing out your inbox. Be willing to save a few messages that may take longer for time when you have it, but don’t let emails sit because you’re unlikely to respond faster later.
3. Dedicate time specifically to emails.
One of the biggest dangers in attempting to corral your inbox is that it’s often a time-consuming process. You spend time color coding messages, deleting old emails you no longer need, and creating new folders only to realize too much time has gone by — and you’ve spent the better part of the day focusing solely on emails.
Dedicate time specific to email organization each day. This helps to keep from working on organizing emails and responding to messages all day long. Otherwise, your emails will run your day rather than you!
Take a moment to review the emails you immediately delete upon receiving every day. If these are marketing emails — for example, from clothing companies or subscription websites — hit unsubscribe.
A better way to control the clutter is to route these emails to your personal email address instead of your work address. Keep messages heading to your work email related to professional items only. This allows you to stay focused on work responses and get to personal emails when the time permits.
5. Let email thread conversations die.
Email threads are emails with several individuals CC’d to the message. Typically, they are used to converse about different issues or topics until the group reaches a concrete resolution.
However, email threads can often be long-winded — and take a while to wrap up. The best thing to do if you find an email thread is continuing well after the discussion has ended is to let the conversation die. If it keeps going back and forth, let it go. Move the message to the proper folder and move on.