Are you struggling to stay on top of your emails? Or stressing over your bulging inbox? If you answered yes, you’re definitely not alone!
I’m sure we’ve all experienced email-overwhelm at some time or another, when your number of unread messages looks more like a phone number than something quick and easy to maintain! And using your inbox as a filing system is another common trap that many of us Mumpreneurs fall into when we’re juggling life and email!
There’s no doubt about it, email’s a fantastic tool when it’s used smartly but when it gets out of control it can cause increased stress levels and a sense of overwhelm that can significantly impact how productive you are. So if email’s stealing too much of your time and sanity follow these simple steps to get back in control of your inbox: -
New Habit : Inbox Mastery
You need to be able to see the wood for the trees in your sea of emails so the first step to recovery is to filter the ‘From’ column in your inbox so that you can clearly see who your emails are from in order to work out your priorities.
Without a doubt you’ll have pockets of emails that you receive purely because because you’re on a distribution list or have subscribed to a newsletter for example. Some of those will be important, but a lot won’t. And depending on how long you’ve been away for, many of those emails may be out of date or irrelevant by the time you get to read them. So do yourself a favour and get delete-happy! Be ruthless, brutal and quick – cast your eye over the ‘From’ list and hit delete on any newsletters that aren’t critical to your goals or job, and any distribution-list emails that are old and out of date.
Importantly, get rid of the dead wood so that you can see clearly and prioritise effectively. By deleting as much of the irrelevant routine stuff as possible you will allow your mind to focus on what is important rather than being distracted by a screen of chaos.
As your screen becomes clearer, you’ll start to get a sense of what’s in your inbox that’s actually important. Think about the purpose of your email and prioritise accordingly i.e. if this is your work inbox then what are your business objectives? Make sure that the emails you focus on are directly aligned to your goals and not chit-chat with friends or reviewing facebook comments! So in my case, my clients are my first priority so I make a b-line for their emails first – I won’t look at anything else until I’ve dealt with their messages.
Once you’ve identified your priorities work through your emails in that order, and importantly only ‘touch’ each email once where possible. What I mean by that is that once you’ve read an email take action on it there and then, and move on. Avoid the temptation to read all of your emails first and then go back to action them – this wastes valuable time and aids procrastination. Read it, deal with it, delete it (or file but only if absolutely necessary!)
5: Be Timely
So that you don’t let your whole day fade away into an email-abyss, make sure you block out a set amount of time in your diary to deal with your inbox, and keep to that time frame without fail. The longer you give yourself, the longer you’ll take – so be ruthless, and push yourself to get on top of your email quickly.
6. Turn Your Email Notification Off
Now you’ve worked through the overflow it’s time to manage the day-today effectively and here’s your starting point – if your email program checks for new emails automatically, turn it off. Having a constant beeping sound when new emails come in can be very distracting and will make you lose focus – this in turn wastes time and causes you to be less efficient and effective.
7. Stop Constantly Checking Your Emails
Being at the beck and call of your emails will drain you of time and energy. Diarise to deal with your email at certain intervals during the day and avoid the temptation to keep checking your inbox every few minutes. Unless you’re waiting for an important email there is no reason to keep ruining your productivity with this nasty trap that so many of us fall into!
8. Keep Your Inbox Clean
Don’t use your inbox as an archive, hanging on to every single email ‘just in case’ you might need it. If you must keep certain emails, create a folder and file them as they have been dealt with. Opening up an inbox full of junk that you don’t need is another energy-drain that will impact your focus and productivity, so keep your inbox as clean as possible, with daily clear-outs.
9. Create Templates
Stop keep writing the same type of email over and over again. If you find yourself sending similar emails create a template or draft email and use this to save time.
10. Pick Up The Phone
Be selective in your use of email and always question whether picking up the phone or meeting someone would be a more effective way to communicate. Resist the temptation to rely solely on email – it’s a great tool, but it isn’t appropriate for all situations.
What do you do to help keep your email under control? Post a comment below – I’d love to know!