How many emails are built up in your inbox right now? Chances are, if you’re like most people out there, you’re thinking too many to count. It can all too easy let chaos take over your inbox. You might be thinking it’s not, but an organised inbox is possible! These simple steps will certainly help you try, or at least try to reach somewhere that is manageable:

#1 Categorise

If you don’t already do this: use folders. As many as you need. This is a great way to begin organising your inbox. As soon as you have actioned an email, file it away in one of the folders. This will also allow you to easily locate an email if ever needed in the future.

#2 Create Rules

Most email programs allow users to create rules. Rules are a great way to organise certain emails in to specific folders as they come in. Simply put, these are commands you add to your email software, so your emails are for example automatically added to a certain folder.

#3 Use Flags and Reminders

Flags are great for setting a visual reminder of when you need to action something, whether it be today, tomorrow, next week or next month. If that’s not enough, you can include a reminder, allowing you to set a specific day and time to action something.

#4 Delete

This one is down to personal preference. Most people don’t like to delete, since they always like to have something to refer back to if ever needed. Even if it’s just the small messages. However, if there is anything you feel you don’t need and will never need again, you should probably delete! This will keep your inbox clean and tidy.

#5 Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts are a great way of saving time, even if it is just a few minutes. Read these, learn them, use them, and thank us later.

  • CTRL/CMD + R: Reply
  • CTRL/CMD + Enter: Send
  • Up/Down arrow: Navigate email list
  • CTRL/CMD + Shift + M: Compose a new message
  • CTRL/CMD + Q: Mark as read
#6 Quick Wins

If it takes less than 2 minutes to handle or answer a request or question asked by email, then do it directly. This “2 minute rule” originally comes from David Allen’s book called Getting Things Done and has to goal to overcome procrastination and laziness. It’s simply makes it easier for you to take action. This way you’ll become more product and emails won’t be clogging your inbox for days and weeks to come.

#7 Unsubscribe

That newsletter you signed up to 2 years ago and never read? Unsubscribe. It’s that simple. You have never read them and you never will. Alternatively, you could use rules, so that they're instantly delivered to a particular folder.

When used effectively, email is still an excellent communication tool, and learning to manage it will ensure you are more productive. It may even relieve some of that daily dread you find hanging over you when you’re about to open your inbox!

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