4 Steps to Regain Control over your Inbox
Occasionally I will meet someone (or work with someone) who goes through email every two or three days (or longer). They respond to conversations that are already over and sometimes create confusion because they did not follow the entire conversation. They are overwhelmed with email and hate going through it. Unintentionally, they are keeping people from communicating with them. They are slowing down projects and creating the need for additional meetings and communication efforts. Following these four steps will increase productivity, save time and save money. Ready… Go!
- Create Rules or Filters to send your emails automatically into folders of your choosing.
Never miss an important email from the boss or your spouse again! All the blogs you follow get sent directly to a folder just for blog posts. They may still remain unread (except mine of course), but your inbox is much tidier. Outlook uses what they call “Rules and Folders” and Google uses “Filters and Labels”. Same thing, different name. If you are not using these features, you probably hate checking your email! Check out this video for detailed instructions for Outlook users.
2. Find other ways to communicate with specific groups of people.
There are different reasons to communicate. Defining the reason will help you choose the method. Social media and mass email lists, texting services and apps, there are so many options it can be overwhelming. Our leadership team has chosen to use ASANA (free version) to communicate on projects, events, and daily tasks. ASANA allows us to track task assignments and keep all related emails and document file attachments connected. No more inbox searching for emails that may be related to a project just to find out later you missed the latest change. I could go on and on about pro’s and con’s regarding different methods of communication. Perhaps another post for another time.
3. Prioritize which emails are read and responded to and when you respond.
After creating rules or filters and then setting up ASANA with your team, you can begin to prioritize who you respond to and when. Honestly, I only open my email blog folder once a week and then I surf through it for topics that are relevant and if I have time I read a couple. It is not a high priority. Staff folders on the other hand are top priority and will be read and responded to almost immediately. This is different for everyone, but the idea remains the same.
4. Do it the old fashion way.
Is this a conversation you can have in person or over the phone? Then do it. Personally, I like to keep my personal phone for personal business, leadership team interactions and family conversations. I keep that circle as small as possible. Using a VOIP business phone that can be used via an app on a personal phone is my preference for other communications.