4 practical tips to get your exploded mailbox under control

It’s not our favourite job for most of us: emailing. This ensures that our mailbox can often use some love. That’s a shame because that can cause a lot of stress. Is your inbox also an exploded chaos? We share four useful tips to help you clear your mailbox.

These will improve your life so much.

Cleaning and organizing mailbox

After reading this article, immediately block an afternoon in your schedule to properly clean and organize your mailbox.

Use filters

Did you know that you can set inbox filters that automatically send specific emails to certain folders? Which filters you apply depends entirely on your work and your preferences. You can think of:

  • A folder with emails where you are in the CC
  • A folder where all your newsletters end up
  • Invoices folder, where automatically all emails with the word ‘invoice’ come

The options are endless. Make sure you don’t create too many filters and forget to check the folders.

Keep inbox zero

For people with thousands of emails in their inboxes, inbox zero (zero emails in your inbox) seems almost unreachable. But inbox zero has some advantages. Not only is it very satisfying, but if you have zero emails in your inbox, you can be sure that you’ve covered every email and haven’t missed anything.

How do you get started with this tremendous job? Put all emails from two weeks back in a ‘Backlog’ folder if you are nervous about removing emails from your inbox. Incidentally, you can also find the emails if you archive them using the search function.

Do something with it right away

Do you often click on an email, only to decide that you will do something with it later? That is a killer for your productivity (after all, you have to set aside time to read the mail twice); it is also not good for your stress level if you forget to do something with it.

Three in ten employees don’t take a torrent of emails and phone calls

When you open an email, you have the following options:

  • Throw away (if you’re sure you don’t need to do anything with it anymore)
  • Archive (then you can find the mail via the search function)
  • Do it right away (if it takes less than 2 minutes)
  • Make it a task and write it on your to-do list (if it takes less than 30 minutes)
  • Schedule it into your calendar (if the task is longer than 30 minutes)

Somehow we always think that the future versions of ourselves will suddenly magically have the time to answer all the emails we are now putting off. The hard truth: do you feel very busy right now? Then you probably will be next week and the week after that too.

Schedule when you answer your mail

Every time you hear an email coming in, you are distracted. Whether you check it or not, this ensures that it is much less easy to get into a flow and takes much longer to complete a task than you need to.

Therefore, agree two or three times with yourself when you check all your mail and let colleagues know that they can call / text / Slack you for urgent matters. Don’t be at your most creative during these times. You can use that brainpower much better.

One last tip: don’t check your email immediately when you start work in the morning. That way, you let your mailbox determine your schedule and to-do list. It also immediately triggers a stress response. Think about what you want to get done today and start your day with that. Don’t be a slave to your mailbox!

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