Cleaning Up Your Inbox

Do you have a thousand items in your inbox, more than half of which are unread?  Is your deleted folder filled with emails you’re constantly going back to reference?  Do you spend five minutes each time you check your email, sorting and resorting your inbox, alphabetizing it, find the right date, hoping you remember the subject line, searching for the email with the answer to the question you’re being asked over and over.

You need to clean up your inbox.Here are my rules.  For one, I don’t go to bed without an empty inbox.  That’s right.  My inbox has a total of zero emails in it at the close of the work day.  Sure, a simple way to accomplish this is to highlight all of your existing emails and delete them, but that’s not exactly what I’m calling for.  For me, emails are like germs (necessary germs, but germs nonetheless).  And I want them out of my inbox as quickly as possible.  If I have to scroll at all to see an item in my inbox, I feel like I’ve been infected.  And the only antidote is to start dealing with them.  The only items that should be in my inbox at any time, are emails which require some type of action on my part.  If I have completed the action or if the email requires no action, once the email is read, I neatly tuck the email into an appropriate folder!

Yes, folders.  Create as many as your heart desires.  Create subfolders in subfolders in subfolders.  So long as your organization makes sense, gone will be the days where five minutes would ever be spent searching for an answer.  If I can’t readily answer an email in thirty seconds or less, then my organization skills need to be addressed.  And emails which will never require your referencing – they also go into a folder – your deleted folder.  And this deleted folder should be purged daily.  No need to clog up your emails and slow up your computer with an overflowing deleted box.

Another tip?  Create the very same folders you’ve created in your inbox in your sent mail.  Rechecking your own response to emails is just as important, and sometimes more important, than finding the original email.  Your folders in each should mirror each other and I promise, your searches will speed up exponentially.

Back in the day when paper was relied on to hold all of the information we had, only the amazingly efficient workers could get all of the papers off their desk and into file cabinets each day.  It was hardly realistic and frankly, it required some physical exertion and even the occasional paper cut.  It’s so much easier to file things away as they are dealt with in the electronic world.  You can’t imagine the delight you will experience when closing down for the day knowing that everything is in its place and your inbox is free and clear.  It will change your life, I promise.

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