Don’t lose your cool over email overflow. It took me years to develop my inbox management system. Learn my tips for managing your inbox.
How often do you hear someone complaining about how full their inbox is, acting like they have no control over how many emails they receive, and even worse; acting like they can’t possibly delete any of them?
It’s almost as if, having an overflowing inbox makes them feel important.
Back in the day, I worked for a company whose president was notorious for keeping a very minimalist inbox. In fact, he kept almost no emails in his inbox at all. When he received an email he’d act on it, then get rid of it.
By act on it, I mean he’d respond to it or forward it along to someone in the company who could deal with it more appropriately. Then he’d either file it in a sub-folder or delete it. It was that simple.
Here was the most important person in the company with an almost empty inbox.
I don’t believe busy people running large companies, growing startups or active families maintain an email inbox that is overflowing with meaningless requests, newsletter subscriptions and unfinished conversations.
In a 2015 Time article, the writer references how Elon Musk masters his email inbox.
I believe those who consider themselves important know that their time is valuable. They know how to manage their days and they know how to manage their inbox.
They don’t go around fake crying about their busy lives and busy inboxes. They understand that it’s not that there’s not enough time in the day, it’s more like not everything is a priority for each day.
Learn how to manage your day, your time and learn how to manage your inbox. It’s not cute or impressive to be drowning in a sea of unopened or unresolved emails.
In fact, it could signal that you’re overwhelmed, unorganized, indecisive and undisciplined.
I don’t know about you — but whenever my email inbox gets to about 20 unopened messages, I go through several emotions: fear, followed by dread, followed by my kick-ass boss instincts, followed by excitement and then finally that get-it-done attitude. That’s just me at 20 unopened emails. I cannot imagine 100, 200, or even 400. That’s just cray.
But I must admit that it’s taken me years to develop my inbox management system. I spent many years panicking every time IT came by to tell me my email storage was full and I’d have to start deleting things. Are you nuts? I’d ask.
But in starting my own business and growing my blog, I’ve had to learn to create rules and systems around email.
Without your own IT department, you might have to deal with this challenge too.
Tips for Managing Your Inbox
Don’t sign up for every email newsletter under the sun. Especially those that distribute emails every day. For instance if you join a group on LinkedIn, you might not need to get an email every time someone comments in the group.
If it’s a group you’re engaged with on a regular – you’re probably already checking back online anyways. Same with blog newsletters.
If you find that the newsletter is just a summary of content that’s already on the blog — you may not need the weekly newsletter after all. Your inbox is really sacred space and you just should treat it as such.
Create folders to help with email overflow. Every single email I receive is read, responded to, then filed or discarded. It’s as simple as that. I have folders for each client. I have a folder for receipts, events, the blog. I even have a separate folder for guest writers who contribute to the See Girl Work blog.
If an email has no value to me after I’ve read it — guess what? — I delete it. I love consuming marketing news and a handful of digital platforms catering to women entrepreneurs.
But after I read and enjoy the newsletter or update, it has no more value to me, so it goes into the trash.
If there’s something in an email newsletter that I do want to follow up on — whether it’s a long form article that I set aside for reading at the end of the day or something I want to post about the next day — I save it in my Evernote. Then the email itself gets deleted.
Don’t Lose Your Cool Over Your Inbox
Remember you’re the boss. In order to run your life, your blog or your business — you’ve got to manage your inbox. There is no #struggle here — just work and organization.