Suffering from Inbox overwhelm? Here are seven tips to help you be the boss of your inbox RIGHT NOW (even if it’s totally out of control).
Clear it out.
Scroll through your inbox and delete the stuff that doesn’t matter. Be ruthless! If it’s over 2 weeks old, you haven’t read it and it doesn’t need to be actioned or replied to, then delete it. Let go of FOMO (fear of missing out) and embrace the space. Think of it this way, if it’s been in your inbox for ages and no one’s followed you up, it’s probably safe to let it go.
You know those newsletters you subscribed to just for the awesome freebie, the weekly biz tips you never have time to read or that blog you used to love, but haven’t read in ages? If you don’t read it or it’s not relevant anymore, it’s time to unsubscribe. And don’t worry, you won’t get in trouble, no one will cry and you won’t get a call from the newsletter police demanding to know why you unsubscribed. Inboxes are busy places and biz folk are tough cookies – they know unsubscribes aren’t personal.
Turn off the notifications.
If you’re on social media, especially for business, it’s likely you receive an email every time someone likes, comments, shares, follows or breathes! If your inbox is filling up with notifications, hit up the settings within each of your social media accounts and turn off the notifications. It will instantly reduce the amount of incoming messages and you can still keep up with all the happenings within the apps (and on your timeframe).
Set up a folder system that makes sense to you so you can file emails (and find them later!). Keep it simple; avoid sub-folders where possible so you can see everything at a glance, and always file your emails as soon as you’ve dealt with them.
Be a bit ruthless here too – i.e. you don’t need to keep every single email back and forth between you and your bestie as you figure out the perfect time for Friday drinks, just keep the important stuff and make it easy to find when you’re looking for it later.
Create action folders.
Has this ever happened to you? You’ve got 15 minutes and decide to reply to a few emails. You go into your inbox and scroll through the chaos looking for a place to start. You get side-tracked by a discount offer, a free webinar link or a funny email about cats riding skateboards. You look at the clock, your 15 minutes are up and you’ve replied to exactly ZERO emails.
Here’s a trick that will work miracles in your inbox: create an action folder called “Reply to These” which lives at the top of your folders list, just under your inbox. Depending on your email system you might need to put numbers in front of the titles so they show at the top (i.e. 01 Reply to These).
As new emails come in, move any that need a reply straight into that folder. Then, when you’re working through your emails or you have 5 or 10 minutes to spare, you can go straight to your Reply to These folder, scroll to the oldest message and start replying. The beauty of this folder is there are no distractions so you won’t waste time clicking around. You’ll get more done and it will make managing your inbox so much easier.
If you’re easily distracted by incoming messages, refresh your inbox and then disconnect from the internet, that way nothing new comes in as you’re cleaning out your inbox. It’s a great trick to stay focused on what you need to achieve.
Once you’re done, you can either reconnect to the internet and bulk send your outgoing messages, or you can leave them in draft and send them later. (Note this is a great trick if you often reply to emails late at night but don’t want everyone to know you’re working at 11pm on a Sunday!).
Take out the trash.
The final tip is quick and super simple: empty the recycle bin/trash folder regularly so you’re not using storage space for stuff you don’t need anymore.
Work through these tips and you’ll be managing your inbox like a boss in no time!