Overflow: Managing The E-Mail Stream

"Managing e-mail is a cinch!", said no man or woman ever.  It's no secret that our inboxes, over time, can begin to mirror that pile of clean clothes that you haven't managed to fold yet.  You know the drill: pick out what you need and live to fight another day. Unfortunately, in the business world, mismanagement can translate to missed opportunity.  We literally can't afford that. 

Here are a handful of pointers that can help to manage the contact influx of emails: 

Keyboard Shortcuts

Setting keyboard shortcuts can be a HUGE timesaver.  Create a one-click command to execute some of the repetitive, redundant tasks that we perform on a day-to-day basis.  

For instance, in Gmail, users can define their own quick commands.  In your inbox settings [hint: click the gear icon], simply enter the letter(s) in the space next to the action under consideration and you've saved yourself a few seconds.  Every little bit counts!

NOTE: "Custom Keyboard Shortcuts" must be enabled in the Gmail "Labs" tab. 

Filters/Rules

One way to remove clutter from the inbox is to prohibit it from reaching the inbox altogether. 

In your client's settings, users are able to pre-determine a course of action based on certain email parameters (e.g., - sender, recipient, subject, keyword).  For instance, you can create a rule that will delete any email received from Sender A or place all emails from Sender B in the "Priority" folder.

Other commonly used filters/rules include archiving, flagging, or forwarding.  Apple's Mail client takes an even more granular approach by allowing users to apply filters based on whether the email is encrypted or if the sender is in your contacts.   

Block Time

Volume aside, another common misstep is improperly managing the amount of time devoted to email.  Sure, emergencies happen and communication is vital to workplace success.  

However, you may find it beneficial to establish a daily block of time to address email that isn't priority.  For example, blocking two early morning hours as an uninterrupted period for email can free you up from approving those annoying expense reports in between meetings or worse at 6pm (when you'd rather be at happy hour).  Blocking time on your calendar to address e-mail sets precedent for you and for others.  Furthermore, consistent execution a set routine can help to annihilate some of the backlog.  

Create a separate account

Speaking of backlog...

If your work inbox is cluttered with Babies 'R Us coupons, you could potentially be charged with e-mail contamination, which is a felonious offense.

To avoid future convictions, please refrain from the following: 

  • Submitting your business email address for any services, social outlets, or marketing/promotional efforts.  This includes choosing to have receipts emailed to you when closing out store transactions.  Don't fall for it!
  • Giving friends and family your business card/contact as a way of keeping in touch
  • Sending personal emails from your business address

As atonement for your previous offenses, you are ordered to establish a separate email for personal purposes.  If you really want to stand out as an honorable citizen, create several personal emails.  One for personal communications, another for marketing/promotional material, and others for whatever specific needs you may have.  

Take control of your inbox TODAY!