In a moment of complete email overwhelm recently I started wondering about whether there is an easy solution to managing the relentless flow of emails coming into my inbox. Delete? Hire a personal assistant?

We’ve all been there, starting the day vowing to get a long list of tasks done, only to be inundated with emails and not actually getting any of the other tasks completed.

The delete button, while tempting, once pressed only causes more problems and I’d be forever wondering whether within those deleted emails there was a gem, an email telling me I’d been promoted, or a job offer, my big break!

So I went searching on the internet for the answer to managing emails and I found an interesting answer. Allocate 10 minutes at the start of the day to read and answer emails and then turn it off and not open email again for the remainder of the day. Are they kidding? I read this suggestion over and over, in many articles and on many web pages, all with the same or similar suggestion. Surely not?

In my work place, the email inbox is where I get ‘tasked’, it’s the gateway to my clients and the mechanism to communicate and maintain relationships. If I were to ignore email for almost an entire day I’ve got to say that my length of employment would be substantially shortened.

So what is the answer? There are many, but this is what I’m now doing.

Email folder management

You can set up rules within your email system to make emails from certain people automatically move to a different folder. This then allows you to read emails within those folders at an appropriate time.

If you prefer more of a manual management process, the solution is to set up a range of email inbox sub folders, allocated by urgency and importance or subject matter. You then need to work out the best times for you to be allocating to folders (a quick task) and then working through them.

First thing in the morning review the inbox, manage any urgent emails that have arrived over night and then move the remaining emails to the appropriate subfolders to read later in the day. Don’t log out of email, but minimise it and get on with your other work.

When you finish a task or need a break, get up and have a stretch, grab a coffee and check your email inbox to make sure nothing urgent has arrived while you were being productive elsewhere. If there are new urgent emails deal with them and move any new emails into the sub folders. Minimise your email again and get on with the rest of your work.

This pattern works well for me, it means I’m on top of my urgent emails and my other work. I’m not stressing out wondering if I’ve missed anything because I’m organised, and have a plan for getting all the work done.

The key to success is not getting bogged down in dealing with every single email regardless of it’s urgency as soon as it arrives. Don’t forget to set time aside to work through the subfolders though.

It will take a couple of days to get into this routine, but once it’s embedded you will be able to kiss email overwhelm goodbye.

This article on Job Inspirations was bought to you by Lucidity Business Consultants.

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