Streamline Your Email Inbox: Conquer Clutter with this 3 Step Zero-Inbox Strategy
Remember the days when “You’ve Got Mail!” was an exciting message full of anticipation? Today, our inboxes are inundated, and working our way through them can stress even the calmest person.
Sorting through email can sometimes seem like a hopeless and impossible task for many to organize. Is it even worth trying to achieve that golden zero inbox? Is there an app for that? I happen to be one of those super-organized people who needs to attain order, especially in an overcrowded inbox. The term “zero-inbox” doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have any emails requiring following up or attention. The goal is to have a productive inbox that helps you stay focused and doesn’t distract you from what you need to accomplish.
Three Steps to an Organised Inbox
Like any organizational task anyone undertakes, you should try to create new email habits and continue practicing them to avoid drowning in the sea of unread emails. Here are a few suggestions on what works for me:
1. Tackle your emails as soon as they come in, and do not procrastinate. Some refer to this as the “Touch It Once” principle. This forces you to make an immediate decision on how to handle an email and helps you stop the number of unread emails from accumulating and becoming overwhelming. Most importantly, it gives you power over your inbox.
2. Unsubscribe from those unwanted email lists. Everyone gets inundated with subscription emails, many of which you no longer read or find useful and valuable. Clicking the unsubscribe button will significantly reduce the total number of emails accumulating in your inbox daily.
3. Review emails regularly. Especially those you have not responded to or ignored in the last 24 hours. Review them and consider the following options:
Delete Spam and Unwanted Emails. This is the easiest way to remove irrelevant messages that are pulling your time away from productive work.
Organize Client or Project Emails. Move emails regarding a client or project that does not need or require immediate or further action in a folder, preferably labeled by the client or project name. This way you can find it quickly and efficiently when needed.
Respond to Easy Questions. Answer short, straight-forward questions quickly and then delete or file the email as needed.
Handle Lengthy Responses Appropriately. For emails needing a more thoughtful response or consideration, leaving them in your inbox is acceptable. Remember to ensure you check those emails regularly and follow up as needed.
By utilizing these three simple steps, you can regain control over your inbox and spend your time productively managing your emails, as well as the other aspects of your job. Remember, all habits take time to form, and the goal is not to have zero emails in your inbox. An organized inbox will help you stay focused and enable you to accomplish your tasks more efficiently.
Stacy Silver, ISHC is President of Silver Hospitality Group, a boutique consulting firm specializing in building revenues and profitability for hospitality companies through targeted industry relations outreach, creative marketing solutions, and special events. Stacy is a Visiting Professor of Practice at the Cornell University Nolan School of Hotel Administration.