emailDo you remember when email newsletters were kitsch?  The new thing?  Now they’re out of control and I just can’t keep up with the amount of news I’ve subscribed to. (Did I really subscribe to that).

I remember working in a high responsibility, stressful job and coming back after a weeks holiday.  It took me a day and a half to sort through my emails. I timed myself from that point forward.  Nearly 2 hours per day sorting, deleting, filing, actioning, forwarding emails!

I decided there and then to find a process, a system to manage my emails more efficiently.

If you’re using Outlook, Turn off your Desktop Alerts

custom alertsIt can be so distracting.  You brain is focused on a task at hand and suddenly a little alert pops up on the edge of your computer.  It’s a evil distraction, a teaser, begging, “Read me! Read me”.  Follow these microsoft instructions to turn off desktop alerts. 

Instead, what you can do is create a custom alert in your Rules Wizard in Outlook to notify you when the VIP’s email you.  The people you want to stop work for and pay attention to.

I love the rules wizard.  I also us it to autofile my emails as they come in. For example I have folders that are labelled “Newsletters, Internal, Marketing, Clients, Contractors and Personal” to name a few.  As soon as email come in,  they are automatically filed.  This helps me to prioritise my work.  I can tell you, the newsletter folder builds and builds but doing this enables me to pick and choose what I read and when rather than it distracting me and dominating my time.

You can also use similar features in gmail and yahoo.  These tools are called filters or filtered views.  While it does not file emails into folders it does allow you to view emails by categories.  For example, I subscribe to ebay alerts.  I’m a bit addicted to ebay shopping and get roughly 15 emails a day!  If I can, I read them, if I can’t I delete them.  A filtered view enables me to select in bulk and delete in bulk.  Categories you might use at home are “Family, Shopping, Newsletters, Kids or School, Name of your Club or group”.

Really your inbox should be empty.  You should be able to move things out of it and action it.  Don’t be afraid to delete either.  Although I do find that using the flag function in outlook allows me to be reminded of emails I need to follow up on.

Otherwise you should be adding action items that YOU need to do, to your “To Do List” and get them out of your inbox.

Here are some quick tips to taking control of your email:

  • Stop Peeking at Your Email – If you’re going to action it, read it.  Otherwise leave it alone.  Turning of the Auto alerts will certainly help this.
  • Avoid using your Inbox as a To Do List – File your emails, add actions to your to do list and move on!  Empty that In Box.
  • File Reference Emails – File important emails where you can find them again. You can actually save emails into a folder.  Alternatively you can print them.  Copy and paste important small info into the notes section of outlook or other software. (Evernote is great for this)
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Delete – Some email wasn’t meant to be kept. .
  • Unsubscribe – Take just a few seconds to stop this re-occurring irritation.  All email newsletters these days have an unsubscribe option somewhere. Take just a few seconds to remove something that over time will build up and consume your inbox.

Providing you with an custom email organising solution is part of the service offered by the Time Tamer.  Within 3 hours, you can have your own custom designed system to reduce hours of email chaos and reduce risk of important emails being forgotten or lost.

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If you have questions on the products or services mentioned, contact me here: http://www.barbaraclifford.com.au/contact

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[…] them, you know they’re there, tempting you to turn away from your work. (Read my blog:  ”Is Email Taking Over Your Day?” […]