“Winning is a habit; unfortunately, so is losing” – Vince Lombardi
In last week’s article, “Get Rid of Email Clutter”, we know for sure that hundreds of email messages can accumulate in no time. The fight against email clutter is unceasing. Decluttering email is one thing; but maintaining a clean one is another. If you’ve successfully decluttered your email inbox, the next task is to organize, manage and keep it under control. If not, email messages will again pile up. Soon enough, you’ll have to do major decluttering all over again. If you do not take control of your email, it’ll just be a vicious cycle. Take charge. Develop good email habits and break the bad ones.
Here are some habits we all should learn to keep email under control.
- Be brief and straightforward
Change should start with oneself. If the emails you send are brief, concise and straight to the point then those who will email you back will do the same. One should not waste their time going through long emails. Construct effective ones. If possible, avoid attachments. It’ll save you time and your receiver’s time as well.
- Make quick decisions and organize
When you receive an email, decide quickly and wisely what to do with it. When you open an email, take a minute or two and take action. Similar to decluttering our homes where we have a pile for items that we need to THROW, DONATE or KEEP; with email, learn to sort messages. Do you need to REPLY, FILE or DELETE the message? For emails that need a reply, make sure to respond immediately. Important emails can be kept in an archive folder. Doing so will simply remove the email from your inbox; but once needed, you can easily go back to it by doing a quick search. Once read, irrelevant and unnecessary emails should be deleted.
- Be orderly and fastidious
Is your inbox filled to the brim with promotional emails and newsletters? Do you still find them interesting? If not, then maybe it’s time to terminate these subscriptions. There is nothing wrong with these emails. They keep us informed, connected and engaged. But interests change. If these emails are no longer applicable or appealing then the best thing you can do is to end it. Unsubscribe to newsletters or promotional emails. Unfollow sites (especially those that send notifications), turn off email notifications from social media accounts. Get rid of unwanted and irrelevant email blasts. You may have been interested in them before; but are you still interested in them now?
- Establish a routine and stick with it
Develop an email routine that works for you. This will help you go through and process your emails efficiently. Checking on emails 2 to 3 times a day is already sufficient. It is less stressful and you get more things done. Create a schedule on the specific time that you will check your email. To inform them of your email schedule, make use of auto-responders. The automatic reply should indicate the specific times you will be checking on your email. In addition, provide alternate means of communication for urgent or emergency emails. I also suggest a thorough cleaning of the inbox once a week. To keep on doing this, make sure the routine is simple, easy and realistic.