Finding Time and Peace of Mind with a System for Your E-mail

stressedFinding time to read and respond to your e-mail is an ongoing challenge, isn’t it?  Organization and time management can really help with this task, but finding the time to actually DO the organizing can be difficult.

It’s well worth it, though – and will save you lots of time and energy over the long run.

On her Biz Tips Blog Denise Wakeman recently shared a post penned by Karen Leland titled “Five Easy Steps to E-mail Organization.”  Karen shares some excellent ideas about categorizing e-mails, depending on the ways that you might search for something in the future.

When setting up your folders it may take some time to settle on the optimum number of categories.  If you have too few, it can be hard to find things.  However, if you have hundreds of categories, then it can be cumbersome to scroll through your folders list to find the one you’re looking for.  As with so many things, finding a balance is key!

The final piece of advice in Karen’s post is, perhaps, the most difficult to implement.

Finally, when new e-mails come in, don’t let them linger in your mailbox, hoping they will read themselves. For every incoming message you have, take at least one of the following four actions:

  • Reply immediately whenever possible
  • Delete the message
  • Forward when appropriate
  • File the message in the appropriate folder

Warning! Don’t fall into the trap of using “ignore” as an option for dealing with incoming messages. Anything you are trying to ignore becomes a loose end and a big energy drain.

When dealing with your inbox it is very 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.  So, with any e-mail  management system, it’s imperative that items in your in-box be kept to a minimum.

I recommend thinking of your inbox as a to do list.  As items are completed, they are moved to their respective folders (or deleted).

A certain amount of ruthlessness serves you well in dealing with your e-mail.  However, 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?   Please drop me a line – I’d love to hear!

What if you could find another hour every day? You can! You are invited to sign up and download The New Finding Time Boundary Template. It’s FREE, and when you sign up you will also receive (if you don’t already) my FREE, weekly Finding Time Tips and my FREE, monthly Award-Winning Finding Time E-zine!

Let’s explore time together …


  1. Thanks, Paula! Following your email tips from earlier this summer, I’ve set my preferences to automatically file one copy of emails from “significant senders”, into the dedicated folder I’ve created for that source, and also copy the message to my inbox.

    That way, I can glance at the material if I want to follow up immediately without searching through my files. Or I can delete it, knowing another copy is securely filed. This reduces the amount of time I have to spend deciding and filing as I go.

  2. Thanks, Alison! Double-filing to reduce stress/urgency is a very interesting idea. Do you find that you end up with duplicates and/or virtual clutter down the line? I appreciate your expansive thoughts and experimentation. It’ll be fun to see how this all evolves for you through the coming months. Thanks for stopping by!

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