by Heidi Richards Mooney
If you’re like most people these days, you probably get between 100 and 400 email messages a day, many of which are unwanted. And some which are important. Multiply that by the number of email accounts you have, and you could find yourself spending the better part of most days just deleting and/or responding to these electronic communications. The problem is how to clear out your inbox and better manage your time.
• Keep your inbox empty. This is the key to managing you e-mail.
• Put important email messages in a folder or folders and title the folders appropriately.
• Answer important emails in a timely fashion at specified times of the day (you decide when it is appropriate to respond and schedule that as your email writing time.
• Set your inbox to check for new messages only a few times a day. Turn down the “you’ve got mail” announcer so you can better focus on the job at hand.
• Get a spam filter. You may risk losing some email messages, however, you have greater control over what you allow into your inbox.
• Put important email addresses in your address book so you won’t have to go searching for them when you need to send a message in a hurry.
• Subscribe to mailing lists, listservs and the like at a new e-mail address. This will help with email overload and you can check these in your spare time instead of having to peruse them with your more urgent communications. Gmail may be a good choice for this.
• Use your “delete” key. Clean up your inbox and remove old, unused messages.
• Use an autoresponder effectively. Let people know you only check your email at a specified time during the day. If the message is urgent, ask them to pick up the phone and call. Oftentimes the message is not urgent and the sender has figured out what they need or they move on. Either way, you have just saved yourself time.
• Hire an assistant or intern to manage the day to day messages – teach her or him to sort them according to your specs and then go through them by importance. Delete all those that are not.
I’d also recommend you get the book “GETTING THINGS DONE” by David Allen. Fast Company calls David Allen “One of the world’s most influential people on productivity.” This book can help you get a handle on the day to day things (like email) that tend to overwhelm us all.
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