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Office organizing, Uncategorized

Do You Have Too Many Emails in your inbox?

I don’t know about you, but many of my organizing clients have way too many emails to handle and too much snail mail.

Is that true for you? I get overwhelmed sometimes, too.

I have some time-saving ideas to quickly thin out your email inbox. Also, as an organizer, I sort through paper quickly and have some tricks for getting through stacks of mail fast.

3 Quick Tips to Thin Out Your Email Inbox

  1. ACT:  Act on the email right away, especially if it will take less than 2 minutes to reply. You may have to save the longer replies for end of the day, when you have less interruptions. Or it might require a phone call if your email is more than 3 paragraphs.
  2. FILE: Take time to file the email in an aptly-named file. I personally have over 30 files in my email, and constantly am adding more. One way to keep things simple or KISS, make the email file names and the document file names in your computer the same. This will avoid confusion.

Create one file for each major client or a big file for all your current clients. (Ex: “Client communication.”)

3. TRASH: this one seems obvious, doesn’t it? But most of us tend to hold onto emails we don’t need way too long. So, look at it once & throw it out!files

7 More Tips for Overflowing Email

  1. Junk mail is easy. Just delete it or unsubscribe if you’re getting an annoying amount from that source.
  2. Use symbols to keep some files at the top. For example, I created email files called @Action, @Waiting for, etc. 
  3. Make sure that creating a file is justified. If it only contains one email, it does not need a file.
  4. Be careful not to be an email hoarder. Unless it has to do with your livelihood or responsibilities you’ve committed to, you can trash that email without fear of any negative consequences. Chances are, you’ll get another one.
  5. Keep it digital. Never print out an email and create paper clutter. One exception I can think of is printing the agenda for a meeting you are attending. Then you bring it to the meeting and put it in the circular file afterward. Refuse to put that agenda in your file, just record your action items. Printing emails creates dual clutter—and you don’t want that.
  6. Once you’ve created your system for email filing, have faith in it. Instead of leaving things in your inbox, trust your filing system. To do this, you actually have to LOOK in your @ action or @read this files once in a while.

You’ll constantly be adding new files for topics as your life changes, and that’s ok.

 7. Last, but definitely not least, keep faith in your system by creating a second level to remember actions you need to do. This acts as a safeguard. For example, create a to-do list item to answer a specific person. Or set up a daily calendar reminder to reply to unanswered emails. 

Dealing with Snail Mail

Deal with it daily.

For both paper and digital ‘mail,’ it’s important to get your mail every day and go through it. Just throw away the junk right away. I always say to open your mail right over the trash and recycling bins, or sort it into piles and then distribute to trash, recycling, and a small amount of ‘keeps’ that will go in a designated place for bills to pay, invitations, cards, etc.

What about catalogs?

If you are not going to make the order right away, toss it. Trust me, you’ll get another one in 2-3 weeks. Sometimes, though, I am thinking about ordering something from a catalog, but want to think about whether I really need it (or if it’s the best gift for a certain person). In that case, I will rip out the page with the item, circle it with a permanent marker, and place it in the drawer with my other mail.

If I haven’t ordered it by the next time I do the bills, out it goes. In this way, you avoid the bulk of the entire catalog. It works well.

Make it Happen!

Remember to sort mail the day you get it and trust your system! It’s easy to get behind and let the papers or emails pile up, but if you find your method and stick to it, you’ll instantly see a difference in the way your desk or desktop looks and in the way you feel. Papers are difficult for all of us, so learning to manage it is a huge victory! And emails are always a challenge. The trick is not letting important things slip through the cracks and get forgotten. That’s where the second level of safeguards comes in.

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Jennifer Morin

Professional Organizer Jenny Morin works with companies and individuals to create organization and effective time management. She speaks and trains companies/teams, teaching time management and workplace organization. As an organizer, she serves business owners and homeowners. As a time management coach, she serves anyone willing to change and improve. Based in Southern Oregon: Medford, Grants Pass, and Ashland areas.

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