Perhaps you manage your emails well, but I struggle with that. It seems that there are emails, emails everywhere. I have multiple email addresses which complicates the situation. As we begin a new year, I want to once and for all manage them better by taking steps to control the email monster.
First, a look at the challenge. I know that being curious and an information hoarder is one of the factors in my own email overload. There are so many email lists that address topics that interest me in all aspects of my life – health, business, personal development, politics and current events, etc. I’m always interested in learning more. Thus the numbers of subscriptions increase regularly and more emails appear in my inbox. I have found some suggestions and have identified some to implement now.
The first step I took was to delete emails that are outdated. Now this may not be something you would EVER do, but I had hundreds of thousands of emails – yes, it’s true – going back 2-1/2 years in my primary email box. Most were dated material. I sorted by date and just deleted the oldest ones without really looking at them. Then I did a quick scan to see if there were personal emails that I wanted to archive and deleted the rest, up to the last six months or so. Then I sorted by subject and was able to delete groups of emails and keep the most recent and any to archive before sending them to the trash box.
The next step, one that will be continuing for a few weeks, is to unsubscribe from lists and newsletters I don’t read. I have too often just scrolled past many of these emails but allowed them to continue to accumulate. After doing an initial unsubscribe blitz, I continue to review what comes in daily to identify additional lists to drop. For maintenance, I will be trying to go through to identify those I haven’t read in 30 (or 60) days, delete emails that have accumulated and unsubscribe from the list.
Establish Daily, Weekly, Monthly Habits
I’m working to establish habits for managing email. Each day, my goal is to take action on emails that come in rather than just scroll past with the thought that I’ll come back to them. This is when I am identifying additional lists that I am not actively using and unsubscribing and deleting past emails. For those with dated, often daily information (like sites offering free or sale ebooks daily), I quickly open, scan, glean what I want and delete.
Often there is an offer of a workshop, webinar or product. These I either act on immediately or flag so I can come back at the end of the day or within the timeframe of the offer if I can’t make an immediate decision. If emails require replies, I do that immediately if possible or flag them for response later.
Some subscriptions contain information I want to archive for future projects. These I quickly review and save into specific folders, getting them out of my inbox.
In addition to the daily practices, I will each weekend go back and delete or otherwise act on items that have served a purpose during the week but are now outdated – for example reminders of upcoming classes, webinars, and events that have now occurred.
I am going to experiment with using a general “save” folder for items I want to delay acting on but want out of my inbox and clean that out monthly. I think this will serve dual purposes: reducing the clutter in my inbox and knowing where to find them more easily when I want to. I suspect that a good number of these will never be acted upon and will be deleted at the end of the month.
With these steps and others that I may try, I am confident that I can make great progress to control the email monster!
Additional Strategies to Consider
Here are some additional suggestions to control the email monster that may be worth considering, depending on your situation:
* Create a “Spam” Address – an email address that you’re going to check on either a weekly or monthly basis. Use this when you sign up to get a freebie that puts you on an email list where you may or may not have time to read the messages. That leaves your regular email address cleaner.
Extract Important Info – Sometimes I leave emails in my box to save important information and flag them. An alternate strategy is to extract the info and put it into a database or a folder in your documents that you can label so it can be easily located. If it doesn’t seem worth that effort, perhaps it can be deleted.
Set Up a Shopping Folder – When you shop online, you get receipts, warrantees, additional offers, etc. Each of these can be a subfolder under your shopping folder. To save receipts for tax purposes, label the subfolder with the tax year. Then filter or sort all receipts into that folder. Then they will be handy when you need them.
Set Up Filters – Most email programs can filter information so that before you even look it’s labeled a certain way. Gmail does this automatically into primary, social, promotions and you can add updates and forums in your settings. Explore the options provided by your email service.
Each new year, I seek out resources that will help me be and do what I choose. Here are two books that you may want to check out:
Indistractable, How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal. (National Bestseller, Included in the Top 20 Best Business and Leadership Books of the Year 2019 by Amazon, Goodreads Best Science & Technology of 2019 Finalist)
The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran. The 12 Week Year creates focus and clarity on what matters most and a sense of urgency to do it now. In the end more of the important stuff gets done and the impact on results is profound.