Death by Inbox –3 tips to save your life

 In Stress, Time Management

If you regularly get your inbox to zero then this blog is not for you-though you may want to share it with your overwhelmed co-workers. This information is for those of you who feel that your inbox is trying to ruin your life or for those like my client who had a record 39,000 emails in his active inbox (you know who you are!) until we spent the day together and did these 3 steps.

Step 1-Dedicated time to clean it out is a must/an emergency:

Have you ever had an infected tooth? It hurts and then it stops and then it hurts a million times worse and soon you are not able to function until you go and see a dentist and take care of it. Am I comparing your inbox to an infected, fetid tooth? Yep! No inbox advice is going to help you until you do Step 1.

You are going to need a block of time when you are doing nothing else except to clean out your inbox—which as you already know is done by sorting by alpha and then ruthlessly deleting, deferring (to a folder) or doing (only if it takes less than two minutes). Be conscious about how you set up your folders keeping in mind how your brain works and what your filing habits are. The amount of time you are going to need is directly correlated to how many emails you have to deal with. Most of my clients need 6-8 hours. One final tip—choose a time when inflow is less or down in your business. For most people, it means working on a weekend—but so worth it if it changes your inbox forever. Put on some great music and go for it.

Step 2-Set rules to send promotional emails to another folder:

Set a rule in your email platform that sends every email with the word “Unsubscribe” to a separate folder before you even see it. This is a game changer as it reduces overwhelm. Now you can check that folder on your own time instead of having all of that non-urgent communication in your main inbox. (Ask your IT department for help if you don’t know how to do this).

Step 3-(is a rhyme) Delete as you reply or you will die:

I just emailed a colleague to book a 30-minute call. It took two emails to agree to a time, then I sent an invite and then he accepted it. That is a total of six emails for one, 30-minute meeting. If you are going to stay on top of it you have to delete (or file in a folder) the email chain as you go or you will be back where you started in a week.

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Comments
  • Lori Bachman

    Brenda, these are great tips because I am certainly a victim of my own email overwhelm. I like all of your ideas (and can do them!)…set aside a specific time block, crank up some good music, and I especially like the setting up a rule to divert Unsubscribe emails to a separate folder. Great help, thank you!

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