You have already one or more mailboxes, continuously increasing 24 hours a day….
Very often, checking your mailbox is the very first step you choose to do when arriving at work, if you did not already check it on your cellphone while going to work: it enables you to exchange and work efficiently. But for some of you, a mailbox full of messages (more over not answered yet) may cloud your mind or become stressful.
For a long time, the target was to end the day with a Zero Inbox (or zero mail): seeing no bold messages and a little zero on your mailbox made you feel free and happy to have finished your day. Today, the Zero Inbox objective is unreachable, and keeping it will generate anxiety and never-ending days. Many messages can stay there for 2 or 3 days…
Some simple steps may be enough to achieve a sense of peace, with some discipline and organization.
1. Sort through emails
Sort them, unsubscribe or delete directly any emails which do not concern specifically your area of concern, or mails that you do not need. You’ve suppressed an important mail by mistake? Trust the sender to claim his answer…Unsubscribe from newsletter that you do not read. If eventually you realize you miss it, you will be able to subscribe again. Some solutions like Cleanfox may help you sorting them and exiting without having to do it manually.
2. TaG YOUR EMAILS
Now that you have a light-weight version of your inbox, you can tag your emails. Whether you use automatic tagging or do it manually, the important point is to identify them in specific files.
You receive less than 50 mails a day?
Here are simple categories that you may use: urgent and important, urgent and on-going, to be answered later. The key lies in discipline and regular check of your files: the important and urgent file must be dealt with at least once a day.
You receive much more mails a day?
Opt for a categorization by theme, project or priority, and not by order of their arrival.
Choose the filing system which corresponds you the most.
3. Batch your emails
The third step consists in defining a time frame to deal with your emails during the day. To avoid being tempted to check them too often, and be more productive for other tasks, deactivate the alarm indicating a new message arrived. Defining time slots in the day to check your mailbox will surely contribute to your productivity.
Make the difference between some type of response: a simple comment or a “go”? Deal with the answer now. An answer requiring tactfulness or thinking? No need to answer right away, include it in your daily organization and schedule it. Rely on deadlines granted (nobody expects you to be a good student, the goal is to answer before the deadline expires…)
Keep in mind that not all messages require an answer. Some emails that you receive as a copy are meant to inform you. Spare your answers and refrain from « ok, well received ».
Respect your own biological rhythm: some people choose early mornings to deal with them, others favor one hour later…Choose the moment when you feel the most available!
One last tip: spending your energy consulting your emails all day long affects your efficiency and quality of thoughts. Dare working on your Fear of Missing Out syndrome to stop frantic consultation of your emails. Find your own rhythm and suitable organization.
We wish you great summer vacation with no mails, after having programmed your automatic reply, and happy to be unplugged!