When Covid hit , the company I work for had to furlough a couple of people on my team. I was suddenly not only wearing many hats, I was managing other people's email addresses. I made a plan to keep inboxes managed until I could get these people back. Here's how I do it:
Email Inbox Organization Tips
Delete It • Filter It • File It
First, A General Clean Up
If you don’t need it, DELETE it.
Delete it the minute you read it and know you don’t need it. (Gmail keeps deleted emails for 30 days.)
Update Your Calendar, then DELETE Event Emails
Emails invitations, changes, cancellations, etc. do not need to be saved if you’ve changed your calendar. Say Yes, No, Maybe, then delete. If you can’t part with them, make a folder called Calendar and move them as soon as you respond.
Take Control of Distractions by Filtering
Google Filter How To: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/6579?hl=en
Decide WHEN you have time to read the content from your favorite newsletters. Otherwise, the content comes in, distracts you, makes you open the email, then leave it in your box to work around for days. Instead, make a folder called “Newsletters” and filter the ones you want there. Read them when you can MAKE the time.
Filter or Unsubscribe from Sales & Alerts
Just like content newsletters, FILTER FILTER FILTER! While you’re filtering each subscription really decide if you need it. Otherwise, UNSUBSCRIBE. You may likely be able to find those same sales and alerts WHEN you actually need them on the brand’s social channels or website. Otherwise, you’re checking your phone every time there’s a “ding” or that number badge for random sales you don’t need. Those seconds add up!
Okay, Now What To Do About What’s Left?
Save Emails With A System
With work conversations, emailed files, data that needs referenced, and so on, you will have hundreds of emails to file and save for the future. Build a set of folders with parent and sub folders the same way you file on a server, common drive, or cloud drive. This way, you’ve trained your brain to save consistently, and you’ll know where to find things in the future.
After you have your file system in place for a few months, click through each folder. If it has just a few emails, eliminate the folder and file those emails in the next logical place. Too many folders is just as overwhelming as too many emails.
Things With A “To Do” Attached? Either:
1. Leave them in your inbox as your to do list, then file as SOON as they’re done.
2. Put that “To Do” Item on your To Do list in the priority order it needs to go and then file it where you know you can find it when you’re working on that task.
Otherwise, never touch an email more than once. Enjoy your efficient inbox and all that saved time!