Unlike the dishes that can just sit there waiting for someone to finally give in and wash them, a cluttered email inbox – filled with old, unopened or unimportant messages – often goes ignored. All that unread email and junk mail can frustrate you, prevent you from maximizing your time, and distract you from other obligations. Getting through every single one of your unread emails is a digital nirvana known as “zero inbox,” and it’s practically an online medal of honor. It’s also something anyone can achieve, with the proper discipline and a few simple tricks.
When used inappropriately, email can hinder productivity. On average, more than one quarter of the work day is spent answering and reading emails, according to research released in 2012 by the McKinsey Global Institute. Its survey found that email is the second-most time-consuming activity for workers, next to “role-specific tasks.”
But do not despair, dear friend; check out these super helpful hacks to help you get your virtual life back on track.
If possible, respond immediately
Taking immediate action is key to keeping your inbox under control. Don’t let important emails sit unread for days. Unless you’re on vacation, respond within 48 hours. If you’re unable to respond immediately, communicate to the sender that you received the message and will be in touch shortly. Set a deadline and follow up.
Don’t get tangled up in a web of spam, social emails and important work inquiries. Label your emails with categories like “work,” “social” and “family”. Ideally, you shouldn’t mix family with work. Add subcategories if you have specific projects. This will help you find what you’re looking for without browsing through thousands of messages.
Set aside time to check emails
Don’t let each incoming email drive you crazy. Let them come in and instead, schedule specific blocks of time throughout the day for checking your email. You might even try marking your calendar and setting your availability to “busy.”
If necessary, shut your office door, wear your headphones or turn your phone off to prevent interruptions by family members (if you work from home) or fellow co-workers.
If only we had this tool in real life! Ok girls, let’s focus on this specific subject: newsletters and advertisements can overwhelm your inbox and bury important messages. To make the unsubscribe process quick and painless, search your inbox for the term “unsubscribe.” Review the search results and determine whose emails you would continue to welcome and whose emails you prefer to live without.