Friday I talked about kicking 2013’s butt and blogging about tips to get organized. Today, I’m going to share what I did to get my email inbox under control so it’s an enjoyable experience (I use that word loosely) instead of a stressful one.

Some of us rush to check our emails to see who they’re from, while others dread it, knowing it’s one more email they’ll have to read in their already enormous inbox. When I started this exercise I had over 100 emails in my inbox. Some of you may be thinking, “I wish my inbox was that small”. If you’ve got more than a hundred emails, there’s still hope for you. If you’re in the thousands,  it might be time for an intervention. LOL!

TIP 1 – Read emails daily

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about your regular check and read one of two emails or wasting hours at a time. I talking about reading your emails with a purpose. I read my emails as they come in throughout the day, but this may not work for you, so think about when you want to read them so you can do it with purpose. That purpose is to read each email and process it right after its read which brings me to tip 2.

TIPS 2 – Process your emails daily

Say it with me. The delete button is my friend. Think about it. How many emails do you really come back to that are useful when you need it? None, or by the time you get around to reading them, the moment or deadline has passed. Processing your emails simply means: read,  action, delete, or file.  Once you’ve read an email ask yourself “do I need this information?” If the answer is no, then delete it. If the answer is yes then (1) mark as important (I used this for items that require action at a later date), (2) action (reply or deal with the email right away) or (3) file it in a designated folder which brings me to tip 3.

TIP 3 – Folders are not the enemy

Folders are great for items that you want or need to keep for future reference. For example, I have a folder for all my memberships with the login name and password. Folders can be created when the email is open and filed right away. WARNING: Think carefully about the folders you create and ask yourself if you really need this email. If not you could find yourself with a lot of folders filled with even more email of useless information or valuable information you can’t find.

TIP 4 – Contacts 

Contacts are great, but can be just as bad as your inbox if not managed correctly. If your email adds contacts automatically, make sure to go back and add the contact names, address and any other information important to you for this contact. It takes a few extra minutes, but will save you SO much time in the long run. Also make sure to add it to your lists which brings me to tip 5.

TIP 5 – Lists

Lists are the best friend you will ever have. Okay, maybe not, but they’re extremely useful, especially for your contacts. Use them to group together specific contacts, ie media, reviewers, etc. This makes it easy to find your contacts or send an email to a group(s) without scrolling through pages of contacts. For example, if you want to send an email to all your friends just type in the name of your list (friends) and every person in that contact group will be included in the email. Talk about a timesaver! Can’t remember the name of that wonderful reviewer? Click on reviewers and you’ll find them in no time.

More email tips.

In addition to these tips, add an extra 5 or 10 minutes (whatever fits your schedule) to clean and/or organize your inbox until you are down to one page. This will get your backlog of emails sorted without wasting hours at a time.

Set aside 5 minutes in the evening (or whatever works for you) to deal with the emails you marked for later action or tackle 1-2 each day. This also helps with your to-do list as marked emails can be added if need be.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. They say it take 21 days to form a new habit. I hope these tips will help you tame your inbox, get you organized and focused for 2013, and give you more time to do what you love.

How do you tame your inbox? I’d love to hear it. Have questions? I’d love to answer them.