Are You Drowning In Email?
Take control right now!
A long time ago, I was totally overwhelmed by email...and I only had one email address! Since then, I have started a few companies, switched email providers a couple of times and use several different email addresses. Luckily, I have developed a system for organizing the flow of emails that I receive.
This system keeps me sane and makes me much more productive. I would like to share that system with you today. A Business Efficiency Expert could charge you hundreds of dollars to show you this but I am going to give it to you for free.
Back when I only had one email account, the primary issue was that I kept everything in my Inbox. It was one big mess. I didn't delete anything because I had a ton of storage space.
Whenever I needed to find an email, it often took a long time to find it. Even with the search function, I still had to wade through all the junk email to get to the email that I was looking for. There were many cases when I forgot who sent the email, then it was almost impossible to find.
Does this sound familiar?
The solution to this problem has two parts: controlling the flow of email (if you have multiple accounts) and organizing the emails once they hit your Inbox.
Controling The Flow From Multiple Accounts
Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate
If you have multiple email addresses, the first thing you need to do is have all of your emails come to ONE address. This could be a personal address or a business address, it is up to you.
I have personally setup an address with a custom domain name, using Gmail as the host. Then I either forward my emails from other accounts to this one account or I have Gmail login to my other accounts periodically and retrieve the emails for me.
You don't have to set up a custom domain name, you can use a free Gmail account. For help with forwarding your emails, check with your current host. Gmail has excellent documentation on how to set up your account so it will go out and check your other accounts. Forwarding is the best option, but if that is not available, then let Gmail check it for you.
How To Organize Your Primary Account
Keep it simple
Once you have all your emails coming to your primary account, you need to organize them quickly. Start by creating a new folder called "Reference."
This folder will be used to keep all of the emails that you will need later. The only emails that will be in your Inbox are your "to do" emails. These require a specific action such as: responding, paying the bill, looking up information, visiting the link, etc.
Once you complete the action, either delete the email or move it to your reference folder for later retrieval. By using this method, you will be able to get your Inbox down to zero emails on a regular basis.
It is such a great feeling when you have a clean Inbox! If you don't believe me, give it a try.
You may also want to create other folders such as: receipts, login information, documents, etc. Don't get too carried away, but one or two additional reference folders can make it easier to find your emails.
Just Get Started
It is fun once you start
If you have thousands of emails in your Inbox, organizing them is a daunting task. My advice is to commit to doing a little every day. Tell yourself that you will manage 25 emails today. Either delete, file, or take action on those 25 emails.
This will get the ball rolling and I think you will be surprised how much you can accomplish in a week. Once you get started however, I bet you will do more than 25 emails. Cleaning your Inbox actually becomes satisfying because you are clearing the clutter from your life.
I hope this helps. It is simple, but very powerful in increasing your productivity. Let me know if you have any questions.