Controlling Your Email In 3 Easy Steps

If you’re anything like me, your inbox can get overloaded on a daily basis, and it can easily get away from you. I used to struggle with this until I made a conscious decision to control my email instead of letting my email control me.

If your inbox is wildly out of control, here are 3 easy steps you can perform to regain your power over it.

  1. Create a filing system. Almost every email client has a system for creating folders (or similar functionality) that you can use to store your emails. I have separate folders for every project and every client, as well as folders for other aspects of my business and personal life. This makes it extremely easy to find a particular email if the need arises.
  2. File every email that you have read and dealt with. The easiest way to do this is to sort your emails by the “From” field or the “Subject Line”. Then simply start dragging your emails in chunks to your shiny new filing system. Be careful not to file away emails that you have not acted on yet.
  3. Once you have cleaned up your inbox and have got it to a manageable state, take a look at what is remaining. This is where the “Four Ds” model comes into play.
    • Deal With It – If an email can be dealt with in 2 – 5 minutes, do it now. Respond to the email and file it away,
    • Defer It – If the email cannot be dealt with immediately, create an action item for it. Add it to your to-do list or your calendar. Then file it.
    • Delegate It – If you cannot action the email right away, is there someone else who can? Another member of your team, a consultant or a sub-contractor? If so, forward the email to them and file it away. You may want to set up a reminder for yourself to ensure that it in fact did get looked after.
    • Delete It – If the email does not pertain to anything you are working on, or if it is otherwise no use to you, simply delete it and be done with it.

Now that you have your inbox cleaned up, simply continue this practice for every email that you receive.

I’d be interested in hearing if this method works for you. Do you have a different way of controlling your inbox?

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