Your Inbox — Is It Your Headache or Helper?

Tips to help with your in-box…

Your inbox — how are you doing with it? Does it create stress in your life, or is your inbox something that you manage pretty well? For many, managing it, let alone EMPTYING it, may seem an impossibility.

But it isn’t an impossible task at all. And here are some tips to help with:

  • Managing your inbox, and
  • Reducing your stress and worry about it.

The Basics

Try these three foundational tips for managing your inbox, to get started. This is definitely doable.

  • Only check your e-mail at certain times during the day. Make these times actual appointments in your calendar so that you follow-through.
  • Act on every piece of e-mail you receive. This doesn’t necessarily mean finishing the action on each item, but take some action. (More on this below).
  • Have the goal of emptying your inbox each time you check it.

Your inbox organization…

In whatever e-mail app you use, you will have the ability to create sub-folders. The key to making your inbox manageable is using these folders. Here’s a basic outline, using just three folders, to give you a taste of what’s possible.

Create three sub-folders and label them as follows: Today, Follow-Up and Done.  When you check your e-mail at the appointed time, you will either take immediate action on an e-mail or move it to one of the folders. Do this until your inbox is empty.

After that, you will visit your sub-folders as necessary.

Your ‘Today’ Folder

Items in this folder should be acted on quickly (i.e. today) but needn’t be done right now. There may be items that you act on immediately when you open your e-mail. These are moved to the ‘Done’ folder as soon as you are finished. As a rule of thumb, if it will take no more than 2 minutes to respond to something, do it immediately. Don’t move it to your ‘Today’ folder, just deal with it and go straight to ‘Done.’

‘Follow-Up’ is not for procrastinating.

Think of your ‘Follow-Up’ folder as a way of giving yourself time to respond to less urgent items in your own time.  It’s important to check this folder regularly and take action on what’s there. This is not procrastination.  You’ll know the difference.

‘Done’ is the goal.

Your ‘Done’ folder is for items you have already tended to, but want to keep as a record or for reference.  Some people like to create additional subfolders as a way of sorting and tracking accomplished tasks.  Others like to have one large folder for everything that’s finished. You can use the search function when you need to find something specific in your ‘Done’ folder.

So, how do you manage your inbox?

Most e-mail systems are quite flexible when it comes to managing what comes in. My VA prefers to keep items right in her inbox until she has dealt with them. After that, she moves each item to a sub-folder.

Others prefer to use sub-folders right from the start and be greeted by an empty in-box.

You certainly ought to exercise your personal preference in this area. The goal is always to reduce your stress and keep your systems as simple as possible.

So, if managing your inbox tends to be a headache, I invite you to consider these tips.

What changes will you try today?

And here’s more help…

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It includes time-tested tips and action steps separated into 11 common categories to help you find just what you need in the moment you need it. You know, transforming your life is all about transforming your time.  It’s within your reach, and these 101 Time Tips give you 101 stepping stones to your time success. 

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There’s so much for you here, and you can learn about it by clicking the link below:

Let’s explore time together…

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