Managing Emails Effectively
When it comes to email organization the tasks feel overwhelming. With a couple tips, tricks, and tools, you can manage your email effectively. Below are a few of my favorite ways to keep my inbox maintained.
Determine The Best Email Folder System
Before you dive into cleaning up your inbox and deleting junk mail, take a moment to determine the best folder system, for you. You can do extensive research on this and find all the ways that people folder their emails. I’m here to tell you that there really is no hard and fast rule, but that you can use a couple different structures to find what works best for you.
The most encouraged way to start is to determine the purpose of your inbox and make a list of the biggest topics you get emails about. For example, if this is a personal email account you might get a lot of emails about when bills are due. Your first folder might include finances and your sub folders could be each place you get bills from. Added bonus, you can set your email up to automatically send emails to specific folders. This is helpful if you are on auto pay and get payment confirmation emails. Send them directly to their respective folders and if you ever need to reference it, you’ll know where to find it. No need to manually move them.
+ Electric Bill
+ Gas Bill
+ Cable Bill
+ Car Payment
If you’re focussing on a work email you might get a lot of emails about new projects to manage. Your first folder might be projects and your sub folders could be each projects name.
+ Project 1
+ Project 2
+ Project 3
Determining the focus on your inbox will help you decide the most important folder you need to have and if it should contain sub folders. From there, you can decide what the secondary most popular email you get and repeat the steps above.
Bonus : If your personal or business email has several purposes, then consider creating folders that convey when emails need to be dealt with.
+ Inbox : A holding tank for emails not yet placed in folders.
+ Today : Everything that needs attention by the end of the week.
+ Monthly/Quarterly : Emails that need a long term response or follow up.
+ FYI : Emails that may need to be references again, but need no response.
Bonus Bonus : You can always use the search feature of you inbox to find specific emails, meaning you do not have to always go to the folder to search for it. With this I'm mind, you may want to use a high level email folder system.
+ Finances : Emails related to bills.
+ Family/Friends : Any email worth keeping from family or friends.
+ To Read : Subscription email that caught my attention and may want to read later.
Clean Out Your Inbox
Next, spend some time cleaning out your inbox. Start with the important items you created folders for and move them accordingly. If you come across emails you may not have considered in the above step, determine the importance of it (if it needs it’s own folder).
Following, deal with all the extra emails you get. This may be subscription based emails or promotional emails. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe. If you never open the emails, do not let them keep flooding your email. If you genuinely enjoy (and open) emails from a business then it’s okay to stay subscribed to them, but move the email to your read later folder or delete it if you already read the information and will never reference it again.
Bonus : Consider using a free service like unroll.me. They help group all your subscription emails together so that your inbox only receives one email a day with a roll up of all your subscription emails.
Maintain Email Organizational Strategies
Great! You organized your email, determined the best email folder system, and your email looks clean for once. The next step is obvious, but many people skip it. In order to keep you inbox organized, you must (must) maintain it. If you never folder your emails, of course your inbox will get flooded again leaving you feel like no email organization strategies work for you.
If placing your emails in folders intimidates you then use the bonus mentioned above and have emails automatically folder as they come in. If you are a gmail user, then use labels to help color code new emails in your inbox so it’s easier for you to see where they belong.
Remember, managing emails effectively is ultimately determined by what works best for you. Think about the real purpose of your inbox and create the best folder system for you. Maintain your inbox and file emails daily.