Welcome, Bloggiesta-ers! I hope you’re clearing the cobwebs, catching up on writing posts, and generally blowing the dust of ye olde blogs. Keeping up a blog is a lot of work, so dedicating some time to keeping things tidy and doing things you wouldn’t normally make time for will benefit you in the long run.
Today I’m going to talk to you about email, specifically how to organize and stay on top of your email.
On average, I receive 20 to upwards of 75 emails a day, most of which require a response. If I’m not constantly responding to or taking care of email, it gets out of control. As I write this post, I have 43 emails in my inbox, and by this weekend, I hope to have that to less than 10. My constant goal is to keep my inbox at under 20 emails, but during the week it often gets to 40 or higher.
I know what I do to keep on top of my email, but I also found some great suggestions after doing a little digging. Here’s a list of things I’ve found useful, as well as suggestions I hadn’t thought of:
- Keep your inbox clean. You don’t have to keep it at empty, but you should be archiving any email you’ve already taken care of. How will you know what emails you need to respond to if you have 1,452 emails in your inbox?
- Unsubscribe from anything cluttering up your inbox. I know how easy it is to subscribe to this newsletter and that email alert, but unless you really are interested or use whatever coupons you get in your inbox, UNSUBSCRIBE. I receive only a few author newsletters and absolutely no vendor advertising.
- If you do want to receive adverts in your inbox, make use of your email’s filter. This way you can still receive notices and things but they’ll get sent directly to a special folder, keeping your inbox clean.
- If an email comes in that can be taken care of in less than a minute or two, do it. If you’re going to have your email open at all times, you might as well take care of all those small, pesky emails that can be responded to quickly, but when stacked one on top of each other become a burden.
- Decide who is a priority. I have a list in my head of people who, when they email me, get a response immediately. Other people can wait until I’m sitting down and specifically working on email. For example, potential/existing clients are the highest priority I have.
- Don’t use your inbox as a place to keep tasks or to-do items. I know from experience those things can get lost if you’re dealing with a high volume of email. Instead, make use of a task list, to-do list, sticky notes, or writing on your hand.
- Set aside time each day to clear out your inbox. While I have my email open most of the day, I send out most of my email in the evenings and on weekends.
- Turn off Facebook alerts. Those things will clog your inbox faster than you can click to turn off the alerts.
- Keep a message unread until you can respond to it. I’ve found this keeps me hyper aware of what’s in my inbox and nothing falls to the bottom of the pile.
- Keep a message in your inbox if you’re waiting on a reply. I won’t archive an email until an issue is resolved. This is slightly different than #6 in that this isn’t a to-do list or task list, but rather items that are waiting on someone else’s action.
- Don’t respond to email all day. This goes hand in hand with #5. When I’m working at home all day on the weekends, I have my email up the whole time. However, when I’m doing one task and an email comes in, I don’t immediately respond. I wait until I have some time to answer all emails that have come in in the last few hours and answer them at that time. Don’t break your work flow just to answer an email.
With all that said, I highly recommend that you use Gmail over any other email client. Here’s a few reasons why:
- Threaded emails. If I used Outlook or Yahoo, I’d have 3-5 times more email because each email would be separate. But with threaded emails, all emails with the same subject stay in the same email, so there’s no going back and hunting for an email with the same subject.
- Archiving. I don’t have to put an email in a particular folder, I just archive it. I still have it and I didn’t have to spend time wondering which folder it should go in to. Also, I can search all my email!
- The ability to flag particular emails. There’s a bunch of different flag options, from a yellow star to a blue start to a red exclamation point to a green checkmark to a purple question mark. Talk about making it easy to identify important emails!
- Spam rarely, if ever, leaks into my inbox.
- You can have any old email accounts forward to your new and shiny gmail account. My email account from this blog goes to my main gmail account, as do about 5 other email addresses I own.
Is there anything I didn’t cover? Feel free to tell us your tips/tricks in the comments section! If you have any questions, I’ll answer them in the comments.