I have a love/hate relationship with email. On the one hand, email keeps me informed much more easily and quickly than snail mail or phone calls. On the other hand, however, email can become another source of clutter if I am not careful about controlling it.
A few months ago I began a quest to get my email under control. I had anywhere from 700-1,000 emails in my inbox. Now, I know many of you have 1,000’s and are wondering if what I’m about to share will help you. YES! Keep reading.
I use the mail application on my MacBook Pro laptop. I also have an iPhone and iPad where I sync my email. I had heard about filters or preferences that could be set up so I could manage certain kinds of email. So, I researched in my mail app and found out how to do that. (More on that process below.)
After setting up preferences and creating folders, I finally got my inbox to less than 100 emails. However, I have let that number creep up over the last few weeks because I did not have a complete system in place to deal with each email.
Here is what I’ve done to conquer my email:
If you’re like me, your email address is on many mailing lists of your favorite stores, websites, and blogs. Consider whether you are really getting a benefit from receiving these emails. If you are not, take 30 seconds to unsubscribe. For the ones you want to keep receiving, you can set up a folder in which to automatically send them. (See #3 & #4)
As you are going through your email, delete any that are old or irrelevant. I found that I had been holding on to some emails “just in case” I needed them. I discovered that they were no longer needed so I deleted them. If you have 1000’s of emails, the delete key is your best friend. I found emails I was hanging on to from 2009 and 2010. Yikes! Obviously I did not need those anymore.
3. Create Folders
Last week I began reading David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done. He has a unique process for managing your time. I’ll be sharing more about what I have learned and am implementing from this book in the weeks to come.
When it comes to email, David suggests setting up folders in which to sort your email. So I set up folders for emails relating to school, kid’s stuff, writing, my blog, and a few others that keep information easily accessible.
Folders are great for those emails that you don’t want to get lost in the shuffle. I created a series of folders with the @ symbol in front of the name so they would be at the top of my list. These are @Immediate Action, @Important Action, @Incubation, @Someday, and @Waiting.
Immediate Action is for emails I need to handle by the end of the day or the next day at the latest. Important Action is for emails that I need to take care of within the week. Incubation is for emails for things I’m considering doing such as an event or a store sale. Someday holds emails with info on things I may want to do at some point in the future. Waiting holds emails where I’m waiting on info or action from someone else before processing.
The key to making these @ folders work is to review them regularly. I check the Immediate Action and Important Action a couple times a day to make sure I’ve taken care of all tasks.
4. Set Up Preferences or Filters
As I mentioned in #1 there are a few email lists I’m on that I still want to get but don’t necessarily want to read everyday. Advertisements fall into that category. So, I learned how to set up preferences so these emails will go directly into a folder I’ve labeled as Advertisements. Then I can go through that folder at my leisure and see if there is anything I want to act on. If you are not sure how to do this in your email system, just search preferences or filters to find out how.
This is what the email app on my iPhone looks like now.
Isn’t it beautiful!
I challenge you to try at least a few of these tips and get your email under control.
Leave me a comment to let me know how you are conquering your email.
Linked up with: Thrifty Thursday