How to Avoid Email Overload
With more and more people relying on email, it’s likely you’ll experience “email overload” at some point in time: whether it’s on a daily basis, or on a return from vacation. We confess that we, too, struggle with this and have used the following tips to keep our emails from overwhelming us.
1. Keep only one “screen-full” of emails in your inbox (i.e. no more than you can view at a glance to your inbox without scrolling). Yeah, right (insert sarcasm emoticon here). While we understand the logic of this, and try to act on each email by responding, filing in a folder, or deleting, we can’t keep up with the deluge. If you’re like us, we recommend setting aside an hour or two on Fridays to go through the past week’s worth of emails and respond, file or delete.
2. Develop a VIP system. When an email requires action and you can’t resolve it right then and there, create a system that will help remind you that you need to do something. You can move them to a special folder labeled VIP or Action, or, use a color coding system if your email program has one. That way you can quickly scan your emails for the important ones.
3. Create standard folders. While these will be unique to your work, we have a few general ones that save us lots of time:
-- Travel (File anything travel related here, including e-tickets, reservations, frequent flier numbers, etc.)
-- Directions (Save all directions to anywhere here, even the ones you send to other people… it saves lots of time retyping.)
-- Kudos (Anytime a client, your boss, or a friend says something in an email nice about you or your company, include it in this file. Then, before you have a review, or happen to be having a rough day, go through and read them to remind you that you are one savvy business gal!)
-- House or Condo (Include anything related to your home, home repairs, and so forth).
4. Write descriptive email headers. By including as much detail as possible in your header (for example, “Summary of 5.10.07 marketing meeting notes”), you and your colleagues will be able to find the right email quickly.