Thursday, September 10, 2009

Email Inbox Overflowing?

Are you a business owner with more than 1,000 emails in your inbox?  How about 500 or even 100? Are you overwhelmed just opening your email program? Do you look at your inbox and just want to scream? No matter what you seem to do, you can’t get through them? When you need a particular email can you find it?

The idea is to make your inbox user-friendly and not overwhelming.  If the emails just sit there without being acted upon and you can’t find them when you look for them, it’s costing you time and money.

Step 1: Carefully scroll through all of the emails in your inbox and get a good idea what different types of emails are there.
Examples of emails you probably have:
My e-zine
Client Correspondence
Social Networking
Order Confirmations
Bills to pay & paid
Vendor Correspondence
And so on, you get the idea.

Step 2: Make folders in your email program that you will sort the emails into.  The trick here is to do this in such a way that they are not out of site, out of mind.
Remember when you’re naming your folders to always name them using your own words. Don’t use my verbiage (or anyone else’s) unless it actually mirrors what you would call it.
Some folders you might need are:
Need to Act
Waiting for Action
Social Sites
Step 3: Make the appropriate subfolders below the main folder.
Examples of subfolders below Social Sites might be:
Linked In
You Tube
And so on…

Step 4: Decide on the order of the folders. Most email programs will automatically order your folders alphabetically. Therefore, you need to be careful when naming them that they fall in the order you desire. You can use symbols or numbers to make the folders end up at the top of the list instead of further down.
For instance, the folders you are going to be working in often, if you put a number or symbol in front of the name they will end up at the top of your list of folders.

Step 5: Decide which emails:
-need action by you.
-are waiting for an action by someone else.
-need to be read before you can make a decision to keep it or not.
-need to be kept, but are archival.
-need to be saved, but only for a short while, just in case
(maybe a sale or coupon from a company you regularly buy from).
-need to just be deleted because you don’t need them at all.

Step 6: Decide which of the folders you are making will need to be checked periodically. For example, the ‘Waiting for Action By Someone Else’ folder should probably be looked at a few times a week. The ‘Read’ folder should probably be looked at and some of the emails in it read daily. You get the idea.
You might want to even make some of the folders you will use daily subfolders of your inbox.

Step 7: Make a plan or schedule for looking at the folders that are not archival. Decide how often you need to look at it and then put in on your task list, calendar or in your planner. You have to decide what fits your life and schedule.  Once you do this for a while it will become a habit.  Use some sort of reminder system at least until the checking becomes a habit. This way the emails will be out of your inbox but not out of your mind. You know they will not be forgotten because you have a foolproof plan and you’ve put it into action. This way you can relax and not worry about losing them anymore.

Step 8: Sort the emails from your inbox into the folders.

Step 9: Feel relief as the quantity of emails in your inbox goes down.

Step 10: Have a time or 2 or 3 in your schedule every day to check your emails and file or answer them as needed. Have a certain amount of time scheduled as well and don’t exceed it. Be realistic about how much time you need to spend.

Step 11: Turn off the bell or ding or icon so you are not drawn to your emails more often than you are scheduled to check them.
Email is an incredible tool and should be friendly, not overwhelming. Follow these simple steps and I guarantee it will be.

You can, as long as you use it in its entirety and include this info: Beth Sharkey Flarida is the owner of Get It Together. She is a Productivity Consultant, Efficiency Expert and Professional Organizer for business. Being productive is not one size fits all! Beth has helped 1000s businesses find the systems that work for them and she can do the same for you! Visit

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