Too many of us are slaves to our email. The volume is just crushing, and every year, the total number of emails generated keeps increasing. It’s completely out of hand. If you’re being slowly crushed by the weight of your inbox, here are a few simple tricks you can use to help get your life back.
Rules, Rules, Rules
Rules and Filters are your best friend. Start things off by setting up rules to better organize your email. If you’ve got friends who send you primarily cute cat pictures or bawdy jokes, set up a “Fun” folder and route those messages there by sender ID. Then, when you get a free moment or two, all of those types of messages are in one place.
Turn Off Automatic Notifications
Does your email chirp, beep, or otherwise get your attention when you get a new message? If so, it’s probably a bigger time sink than you realize, because it’s the same psychology as a ringing telephone. It demands your attention right that second, even if right that second isn’t the best time. Turn these notifications off and check your email on your own terms, rather than being held captive by notifications.
This is a fantastic free service that keeps track of all the newsletters you’ve gotten signed up for, even if you don’t remember signing up for them. The idea behind the service is that rather than having to open each one up individually and find the unsubscribe links, you get a nice, simple list, with an unsubscribe button next to each item. It is a very quick way to radically reduce the size of your incoming mail stream.
Preemptively end your email conversations. Be clear and decisive in your communications. Instead of inviting an exchange of half a dozen back and forth messages to set up a meeting time, start with, “I can meet Thursday between 2:00 and 4:00, or Friday anytime after 3:00. Pick the one that works best for you and let me know.” By couching your message in this manner, you cut out a lot of the miscellaneous chatter to arrive at the same conclusion about the time of the meeting and you prevent a ton of emails from ever getting to your in box. Getting in the habit of doing this can shrink the number of incoming messages by dozens, if not scores a day.
If you use these tips individually, they will make a notable, measurable difference in terms of getting your in box under control. If you use all of these tips together, the net effect will be nothing short of remarkable. You will no longer feel as though you are at the mercy of the torrent of emails you get on a daily basis, but rather, will once again be in control. Best of all, you don’t have to declare email bankruptcy, which is the sorry condition when you just surrender and delete everything in the hope that the people who sent you really important messages will be kind enough to send them to you again.