Why get organized?
No workplace can operate effectively if communication is lacking. This is why E-Mail organization is so important! Since most people operate almost entirely from one e-mail account, their inbox is being flooded with information from work, companies, friends, and family. It can easily become overwhelming and even affect your productivity in the workplace.
We’ve all been there. The E-Mail notification sounds off throughout the night with news of an obscure company’s latest sale or information about a membership you’ve long since let expire. It’s not always clear how you manage to make it onto these mailing lists, but it IS possible to manage it.
Use Multiple Accounts
Some people choose to manage multiple E-Mail accounts in order to ensure that they don’t miss a message. This is a perfectly fine option, but I don’t recommend using more than two accounts.
One account should be reserved exclusively for work, important personal accounts (like your bank or utilities), and family and friends. Every incoming E-Mail in this account should be from someone that you feel no need to brush off and save for later.
Your second account should be reserved for online subscriptions, social media notifications, coupons, etc. While these are all things that you might be interested in seeing, they also don’t typically require an immediate response. You will be able to check this account without urgency or fear that the promotions are burying an important message from your boss or a time sensitive invitation from a friend.
Take Advantage of Folders Feature
Your account should offer a feature to save and file your E-mails. This will allow you to keep your inbox organized and clutter-free. The way you choose to organize your files is simply a matter of personal preference.
You might choose to file your E-Mails into “Work”, “Personal”, “School”, or even go into more detailed labels. These are especially great if you tend to save E-Mails for their information that you can look back on later.
Two folders that I find to be particularly helpful include “Respond Today” and “Respond This Week”. These call to action folders serve as helpful reminders to respond to your E-Mails in a timely manner. Make it a habit of checking your E-Mail periodically throughout the day and send responses to your weekly and daily E-Mails. As you are finishing up work at the end of each day, make sure to clear out your “Respond Today” folder completely. At the end of the work week, do the same.
Unsubscribe and Change Notification Settings
Many of your E-Mails are likely coming as notifications and updates from apps that you’ve used at some point that continue to give you notifications long after they are necessary. Some of these include job searches, real-estate updates, or even updates from retail establishments. If you are no longer finding those updates useful, it’s time to unsubscribe.
Open the E-mail and scroll down to the bottom and it should give you the option. Occasionally it will first ask you to log in or answer a question about why you are choosing to unsubscribe, but most places try to make it easy!
If your social media account settings permit it, your inbox may also be cluttered with those notifications as well! Our social media apps on our phones and tablets come with a feature for “push notifications”. These let you know right away when a new comment requires your attention. Not only is the notification easier to access, it is also does not need as much management because the notification does not typically need to be cleared manually.
Make the time
One of the most important things you can do is to schedule in time each day to check your E-Mail. We understand that you’re busy! And there is no one standard schedule that will work for you.
If you are in an office setting that allows you to easy access to your E-Mail, you might make a point to check your E-mail at specific times during the day. Be sure to check your E-Mail first thing as you sit down for your day and right before leaving. You should also consider finding one or two other specific times that you set aside to check and respond!
If you’ve got a unique work schedule, or a job that keeps you away from a computer during the day, you might consider checking your E-Mail over coffee in the morning and just as you get home, before you begin to wind down. Just make sure you are actually assigning specific times to managing your account. It should be part of your routine just as much as brushing your teeth!
Keep Up with It
The most important thing that you can do to maintain your newfound organization is to stay dedicated to your new system. This includes everything from checking your E-Mail regularly, filing and deleting accordingly, being mindful about what you subscribe to.
E-Mail organization will help you be more productive, offering better customer service, and impressing co-workers and management.