By Nicole Tinkham
We’ve posted plenty of blogs on how to get various parts of your life organized (craft room, office, files, etc.) as well as tools to help you along the way. One thing that most of us tend to neglect however is our email inbox. When emails pile up in the blink of an eye, sorting them can seem like a daunting task. Luckily, there are many ways to organize your email without wanting to rip your hair out. Here are a few of our favorite tips!
When organizing your inbox, the first thing to concentrate on is actually your junk email. There’s no doubt about it, these will clutter your inbox making it hard to find important emails. Instead of wasting valuable time deleting each one, just go ahead and unsubscribe (you probably won’t miss them much anyway). Most companies cleverly hide the unsubscribe button making it frustrating to end your relationship with them but we found a really helpful tool that will save you loads of time. Visit Unroll.me and select all of the senders you would like to unsubscribe to. Easy as that!
2. Defer non-urgent emails
Don’t let non-urgent emails distract you throughout the day. You can push these emails back (without forgetting about them) by setting up a reminder on a later date. We love this idea because it encourages you to focus on what’s important TODAY and by setting up a reminder you won’t forget about future tasks. To defer messages, simply put emails in a special folder or use your handy calendar and set an alert.
3. Create to-do lists
The average person typically receives about 12 messages a day. These emails can take up a lot of your time, so organize them based on how long they will take to complete. For example, if an email will cost more than 5 minutes of your time, move it over to your to-do list and prioritize from there. Check out How to Get Organized before Holiday Vacation for tips on making great to-do lists.
4. Folders are your friend
Just like file folders are essential in organizing office paperwork, email folders are a necessity when it comes to organizing your inbox. If you don’t know where to begin, you may want to start creating folders titled “helpful resources”, “contact info”, or “tasks”. Here are two things to keep in mind when creating folders: 1. Be specific so you know what type of emails are in each folder. 2. Don’t have too many folders to the point of opening each one to find what you need.
5. It’s not all about the inbox!
You’re most likely going to focus on the inbox when sorting through emails but don’t leave out your sent messages! It may be beneficial to organize these in folders as well, possibly by project or date.
6. Get the most out of automated sorting
Automated sorting does all the organizing for you as emails are received. To set up this feature, you will have to create a new “rule”. The rule will state that any emails from this sender will automatically be put in _____ folder. If you would like more information about automated sorting and rules, please leave a comment in the box at the end of this blog.
7. Master the search function
So you may have gone a little overboard with your organization and misplaced a few important emails. Don’t worry, there’s a search function made specifically for finding lost emails. Use the search field to enter in the name or email address of the sender you are looking for. Go ahead and play around with it (like right now) and get the hang of searching within your email.
8. Get in a routine
Now that you know the basics of organizing your email, it’s time to get into a routine. Think of it like organizing your home. If you don’t keep up with it, you’ll find yourself living in an unorganized mess. Keep up with your emails and you won’t have to start the whole process over again. Here are some things you should get into the habit of doing:
1. If an email requires no action and is not needed, delete it right away.
2. If an email is urgent, either see to it right away or mark it as important.
3. At the end of the day, sort and file emails.
4. Anything that has not yet been sorted through and is still sitting in the inbox, do so on Friday before leaving the office for the weekend.
9. It’s ok to get a little help
If you just can’t keep up with your inbox on your own, let an app help you along the way. We aren’t too familiar with email organizing apps but they’re out there (after all, there’s an app for everything, right?). We want to hear your recommendations! Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook or Twitter pages with an app you recommend.
Chances are you’ll end up creating your own organizing system but for now, start with these simple steps. Depending on your email service, your options may differ. Do some research and find out what features your email provides and determine the best way for you to organize your inbox. We’d love to hear how these tips have helped you get organized and become more productive. Please comment below!