E-mail Systems to Find Time AND Find that Important E-mail When You Need It

e-mail systems

E-mail systems really help!

Reading and responding to your e-mail takes up bigger and bigger chunks of your time. Have you noticed?

It’s an ongoing challenge that adds to your stress and often cuts into your efficiency and effectiveness.

Organization and time management can really help with this task. But too often, the upfront time involved looks like an insurmountable hurdle. Indeed, finding the time to actually DO the organizing can be difficult.

But I’m here to remind you that it’s well worth it. Over the long haul, the time you invest in developing e-mail systems to manage your inbox will save you lots of time and energy.

E-mail systems, starting with categories…

Depending on your e-mail platform, you are going to have different possibilities for categorizing your e-mails. And then you also want to think about systems for handling the many different types of messages that you receive.

So, for example, when you think about categorizing, it’s helpful to reflect on the ways you might search for this e-mail in the future.

It’s also important to consider the best number of categories for your needs.  If you have too few, it makes it harder to find things quickly.  On the other hand, if you too many categories it becomes cumbersome to scroll through all the folders to find the one you’re looking for.

As with so many things, finding a balance is key.

There are other choices to make, too…

This part is the most difficult to implement because it involves lots of small decisions, some of which are challenging.

The idea is to not let new e-mails ‘linger’ in your inbox where they create undue stress. Instead, for every message that you receive, commit to doing one of the following:

  • If possible, reply immediately and then file the message and reply under the appropriate category.
  • When the message is not important or doesn’t require a reply, either delete it or file it in the category it belongs to.
  • If the e-mail needs to be shared with someone else and involves an ongoing discussion, forward it and file both messages in a folder labeled something like “Awaiting Response.”
  • The e-mails remaining in your inbox are messages that still need to be tended to. This means that, in practical terms, your inbox becomes your to-do list.

When dealing with your inbox, it’s important to do SOMETHING with each piece of incoming mail.  E-mails that sit in your inbox are loose ends, and loose ends are big energy drains.

Not only that, but I find that when I have to scroll to see what’s in my inbox, it adds significantly to my stress. That’s because I worry about losing track of something.  So, no matter what e-mail management system you settle on for yourself, I’d advise using one that keeps the items in your inbox to a minimum.

BONUS TIP: If it makes you nervous to delete messages, you might create a folder for items that you probably want to delete but aren’t 100% sure about. This gives you an intermediate step on the way toward deletion – and may make it easier to move things along.

Is e-mail management a time challenge for you?  Are there any tips or tricks that you’d like to share?  We’d love to read your comments here.

Don’t put it off…

Systems won’t help if you don’t implement them. And so, if procrastination keeps you from taking that first step, you’re certainly not alone. Millions of people struggle with this energy draining time thief. Procrastination’s costs include lost productivity, lost income, lost opportunities, frazzled nerves and damaged relationships.

My accessible and immediately actionable E-Guide Book titled I Don’t Know Where to Start!” How to Stop Stalling, Get Clear, and Turn Procrastination into Productivity offers you a clear path to get to the roots of your procrastination and start doing rather than delaying — today.

“I Don’t Know Where to Start!” unmasks this time thief with exercises to help you identify your own unique brand of procrastination. And it provides insights to help you successfully address what you discover. Using the tools and skills you’ll learn in “I Don’t Know Where to Start” you’ll get started and keep going!

To learn more about this powerful E-Guide Book and its accompanying bonuses, just click this link.

Let’s explore time together …


  1. Dear Paula,
    I have just started using a “Current” folder to which to move important mails from the In-Box or mails in my Sent folder that I need to follow up on. I hope this will help keep my inbox clean and help me decide more quickly if a mail needs to be filed elsewhere, answered quickly, or simply deleted.
    All best!

    • Hi, David – Thanks for writing! That sounds like a very helpful step. And as you move ahead, if you find that your “Current” folder becomes too full, you can always refine your system.
      I definitely find that keeping my Inbox as clean as possible is a big stress-reducer. I hope you find this to be true, too.
      To your time success,

Speak Your Mind