The key to staying ahead of the game is to process and organize your inbox in a smart and intelligent way. Even basic email systems offer a number of features and options that include sending and receiving files, saving, deleting, creating and flagging emails. More often than not, people use their email inbox for data and information storage. One of the most common reasons for an email overload is that people tend to leave emails sitting in their inbox because they do not know what to do with it or they prefer taking a look at it a little later.
If you want to organize your inbox (and in some cases, inboxes), you must invest time everyday to review and make decisions on your messages. Personally, I get to the office a half hour early, and with my cup of coffee in hand, I make life and death decisions about emails I receive. To delete or not delete, that is the question.
Productivity experts recommend organizing your tasks in a methodical and systematic way to avoid problems such as missing important deadlines, leaving client and customer concerns and questions unanswered, and getting overwhelmed when your inbox is full. Most people, especially working professionals, find the process of managing their email inbox a cumbersome process. For those who receive a very high volume of emails on a daily basis, organizing their inbox can be quite a hassle. With the increase in the number of messages, the process of reading, understanding, and answering each of them appears virtually impossible. Ignoring a few emails and other correspondence may seem to be a viable option.
However, in a work environment, overlooking tasks and important things that need your attention do not reflect well on your productivity and efficiency. The reason it is hard to deal with each email is that often we don’t have the right tool to guide us in our decision making. I’ve found that its easier when I think of the question not in terms of delete or save, but rather as: delete or save as: a note, future tasks, part of a project or near term task. These categorizations make it easier for me to process the information, and by using prioritization, I can always take a step back and see the forest from the trees.
All my email accounts come to my IQTELL account – I have 3 email accounts: 1 for work and 1 each through Yahoo! and Gmail. Every morning, cup of coffee in hand, I review my incoming emails. With a right click of my mouse, I easily decide whether or not the email should be filed as a note for future reference. For example, if I receive a promotional offer from Amazon, I can easily file it as a note that can be easily found later. If an incoming email requires planning on my part and its execution requires several actions, I will create a project. Again, with a simple right click – the email initiates a project in my Projects folder. I will always see the originating email in my project reference materials. Certain emails will require short term action whether it is submitting a price proposal to a customer or running an errand for my wife. For them, I simply right click and create a task. I can easily categorize it as work or personal or any other category I choose.
After each morning’s session, my inbox is whittled down and I can easily view my tasks, projects, and notes and decide how to work most efficiently to achieve what needs to be done. Most importantly, I finally feel in control; there is nothing bugging me or waking me in the middle of the night. I know what needs to be done, and if I don’t have time, I know it is being managed and will not be lost.
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