1. Make Your Email Inbox an 'In' Box.
Make your email Inbox a processing station, not a holding station. Imagine if you left all your paper letters in your physical letter box at the front of your house for weeks on end. What a mess it would be! See you email inbox the same way. How many email are there right now? 50, 100, 500, 1000, more? Learn to process items as soon as possible and get that inbox to empty.
2. Set Up a Simple Folder Filing System.
Within your email inbox you can create additional folders (just like drawers within a physical filing cabinet). Just select 'File/New/Folder' within your email program and give the new folder a name. You might want to include folders for various projects, people or categories such as: Urgent, Waiting, Reading, Events, Finance, etc. etc.
3. Use a Process for Handling Email.
For each email that arrives, make an immediate choice to:
- Delete it, if it of no use or interest to you.
- Do it – if it will take 2 minutes or less.
- Delegate it – to someone better suited to respond to it.
- Defer it – set a time in your Calendar, flag it, make it a Task, or put it in your ‘Reading’ folder (CCs are fyi).
Touch emails only once and never open an email without processing it.
Another idea is to right-click on an email and see a host of options, including 'flagging' it for follow up later, creating a 'rule' as to how you'd like your email application to handle that kind of email. Also, check out the various 'view' options available to you.
4. Set Some Specific Times to Look at and Respond to Emails.
Depending on your work or personal role, maybe having some time to check email first thing in the morning, at lunch then and before the day ends is best for you. Either way, have some 'email free' hours each day. Turn off those sound notifications. Don't multi-task, it merely causes distraction, lowering your productivity. Go offline if that helps. If someone needs to get in touch with you urgently, they can always text or call you.
I hope that these posts about email have been helpful. There is much more to life than sitting in front of a computer or digital screen. Get outside and smell the roses and don't forget that life is about loving God and people. That's best done 'live' – in person. Be fully present with people and put that phone away for a while. You'll be fine.