De-mystify your email inbox

When I’ve been talking to people in recent weeks, their eyes have lit up when I say that I can help them manage their email inbox.

Email inboxes seem to be dreaded by many people for a variety of reasons. For instance:

  • Your inbox is so full that new incoming emails are blocked so you can’t receive them
  • You know there is an email in there somewhere that you need to reply to but you can’t find it
  • Your business emails are all mixed up with personal stuff
  • You have subscribed to various e-newsletters but never seem to get to read them and they’re cluttering up your inbox

You’ve opened them all and read some but not all. So you don’t really know what action you need to take if any but you don’t want to delete them in case there might be something important in them. But you never get around to checking.

You wonder how other people manage their email. Well – judging from the response I’ve had recently, a lot of people don’t!

You think there must be a better way. Well –there is.

First up take a look at recent emails – say over the last month and note how you can sort them into groups. When you sit down and think about it you might find you have emails from clients or customers, from suppliers, from sales people, from friends and relatives.

Or you might look at the different topics of the emails and decide to group your email messages by topic.

It doesn’t really matter how you group them or what you call the groups. The important thing is that it makes sense to you and anyone else in your business who needs to access your emails.

Next, check out the email product you’re using and see if there is a way of setting up separate folders for each of the groups of email senders you’ve identified.

If you’re using Gmail you can create folders for each group you want.

Gmail has a priority inbox where it automatically puts some emails that it thinks are important for you. You can put stars on some emails so they stand out amongst the rest and you can add them to a To-do list.

Gmail priority inbox


Other email products will do similar things to help you to keep your email under control.

The products can only help you so far though. To really manage an overflowing inbox you need to have some good habits. Like taking time to empty your inbox regularly. Once you get into good email habits you’ll find you can delete unnecessary messages as you go rather than having them build up and causing a clutter that is a pain to get rid of.

More on good email habits next time.

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