Seven Easy Steps To Phenomenal Focus in The Office: Step 7: Sort Your Inbox
Email in-boxes are amazing in the way they accumulate messages. You check your emails, respond to them, and the next day they seem to have tripled! A well organized in-box can take you far in the name of focus and organization.
Wait Until You're Ready
In the same way that some people only open their paper mail when they're absolutely prepared to deal with all of it, open your emails when you have time to respond to them. How often have we opened all our emails to see what they say, then decide to wait until later to respond? Later turns into tomorrow, then the next day, and all of the sudden, we realized we never replied to that email.
Timing Is Everything
Set up a time of day that works best for you to respond to emails. Prioritize your tasks so that you aren't rushing through any one task to start on another. Maybe it's easiest for you to check email only once every day and first thing in the morning. If your in-box is receiving messages all day long, maybe check it every hour on the hour. Or check it only after you've accomplished a task on your list and marked it off. This way you stay focused on your current task, but don't neglect any others.
Fill Others In
If you decide to check email only occasionally in an office where people sent emails like text messages, let others know what your system is. If you check first thing in the morning and not again until lunch time, tell whomever you're responding to a time when you'll next be available. If they need something beforehand, they can call you. This way you both get done what you need to.
Organize the Inbox
Create new folders in your inbox to organize your emails. If you need to keep some on record, designate an appropriate folder for the email and drop it in immediately after reading. Or, set up an automatic filter in your email to designate proper locations of emails. This way you can check only the emails you need to, when you are ready.
Be sure to keep your spam mail filters up to date. Regularly mark spam emails as such, and report them to your email provider. If you do this diligently, you'll dramatically reduce the amount of spam emails you receive, thus clearing your inbox of extra clutter.
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