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Email Overwhelm (1) – Clearing your Inbox (and keeping it that way)

Drowning in email? An inbox that is overflowing with actions,urgent calls for responses, “stuff” to read… it’s chaos, it’s stressful, it’s overwhelming.

Email is a fantastic tool. But poorly managed it can take over your life. Indeed email has created an “instant response culture” such that often they are followed up with a phone call asking “did you get my e mail?” Talk about double handling!

In my next three blog posts I will share with you some ideas on how you can manage your Inbox effectively, reduce the stress associated with the daily flood and remove completely the periodic feeling of complete overwhelm. In order to give you all the elements of effective mailbox management  in a timely way, I will be departing from my usual weekly frequency and will be posting all three blogs this week, today, tomorrow and Thursday. If you implement these ideas, you’ll be amazed at the results.

The process will be broken down into the following stages;

Stage 1: Getting your head back above water. (Today)

Stage 2: Tomorrow is a new day. (Tomorrow)

Stage 3: Stopping the deluge. (Thursday)

Stage 1: Getting your head back above water

You need to start by buying yourself some breathing room. A flooded inbox is overwhelming and often you don’t know where to start. Here’s where:

1. Create an “Action” folder in your e mail application. This is where you are going to store any e mails that you need to take action on (other than just firing a two line response, or filing/deleting).

2. Pick the most important. Go through your inbox and identify the 10 to 15 that are the most urgent action emails and move them to this new folder. This is the folder you are going to be working from going forwards.

3. Archive the rest. Now create a “Temp” folder. Put everything that is still in your inbox into this folder. Everything, no exceptions. You’ll get to these down the line but for now we just need them out of the way and to stop worrying about them just now.

4. Create a ruthless new policy. From that point on every new e mail that comes in will follow these rules. Tomorrow’s blog will deal with how you create these rules for all new incoming emails.

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