You need to manage your email to be in charge. I’ve figured it all out, here’s a quick chart.
- Your inbox can double as To-do list
The only messages that you should have in your inbox are messages that require your action. Everything else should be out of your way.
- Folders are your friend
Everyone you deal with should have their own folders. You should have broad categories, and then get narrower. Once you’ve dealt with a message, you should remove it from your inbox and promptly place it in a folder. That way you’ve still got it for future reference, but it’s not cluttering your inbox.
- Only read a message once
Before you open a message, be sure that you’re going to have the time and resources to answer it right away. I’m horribly guilty of this one. If you get a message, you have to be committed to reply to it right away. If you don’t reply right away, mark it un-read or use flags to mark it as something that you need to get back to.
- Only read mail at defined intervals
If your mail reader is open all day, you’re going to be constantly disrupted and have an incredible feeling that you’ve got nothing done all day long, except maybe deleting, answering and sorting messages. Set two or three times per day to just deal with email. Once in the morning, once after lunch and once before you’re out the door. If you have access to your mail at home, you might want to check before you hit the sack.