Do you open your inbox and instantly feel overwhelmed? Are there weeks worth of emails clogging up your inbox? Months worth? Years worth?
Isn’t it surprising just how quickly those emails pile up? Your inbox is a happening place (especially if you offer email support to your clients) so you’ll definitely want to have a strategy for maintaining an organized inbox.
An inbox that overwhelms you each time you open it decreases productivity - when you don’t even know where to start, it’s really hard to get started!
Increase your productivity by having a strategy for maintaining your inbox that allows you to have a clear focus every time you open your email.
Step 1: Dealing with the Backlog
Before you can start maintaining your inbox, you need to deal with the backlog of emails. Depending how long you’ve been letting it pile up, this may take a time commitment. If you can devote enough time to sit down and get it all done at once, great! But if you don’t have the time to do it all at once, you can break it down in time chunks.
Devote fifteen minutes each day to cleaning up the backlog until it’s caught up. Start at the bottom and work your way up. Consider each email and whether or not you need it. Delete any emails that are junk or are no longer relevant.
When you come across an email that you need to keep, decide whether or not it needs attention. If it needs attention then flag it. Do not give it attention at this moment - remember this time is for cleaning up the backlog of emails, not for going down the email rabbit hole.
If the email does not need attention but it’s still important and you need to keep it, then place it into a relevant folder. And if you don’t already have folders in your inbox, now is the time to create them!
Here are some examples of folders you might need:
Clients - have subfolders for each client
Affiliate Programs - keep correspondence or confirmations and links for any affiliate programs you are part of.
Business Receipts - anytime you make a business purchase and receive a receipt to your inbox, put it into this folder so they are easy to find when you do your bookkeeping or when sending them to your bookkeeper.
Collaborations - confirmation and information about any upcoming collaborations or events you are attending
Step 2: Strategy for Maintaining an Organized Inbox
Once you have gone through your backlog of emails and got rid of all the ones that you no longer needed, organized the ones you need to save, and flagged all the ones that still need attention, it’s time to maintain that beautiful inbox.
As emails come in each day, either delete, save (put in a relevant folder), flag (ones that need attention but not at that immediate moment), or answer the email.
Choose a day each week that you will be able to set some time aside to go through all the flagged emails and either delete, save, keep the flag, or answer the email.
Even with a daily and weekly inbox strategy, stragglers will still end up in your inbox. Things get busy, you forget to check off a flag, whatever the case, a scheduled monthly clean up will help you take care of the stragglers.
Take some time to start at the bottom of your inbox and thoroughly go through each email and either delete, save, flag, or answer the email.
This is the time to go through your inbox folders and get rid of anything in those that are no longer necessary to keep.
So, there you have it! Just two steps for maintaining an organized inbox.
Put it on your planner and make it a priority. You are much more likely to do it if you schedule the time to do it.
An organized inbox is like a breath of fresh air and allows you to focus more on what needs to be done each time you open your email. You are a sleep consultant - I know you know how important consistency is to changing habits. Say goodbye to your cluttered inbox and stick with this strategy to CONSISTENTLY stay on top of your inbox.
When you commit to something and do it consistently it becomes second nature, similar to a bedtime routine! Before you know it, you won’t even remember the days of your chaotic inbox.
Need some help organizing your inbox to boost your productivity?
We can help! Get in touch with one of our VAs today.