At the start of the year I was getting over 350 emails. A day. I’d wake up in the morning to over 150, skim through to try to find any important ones, but would rarely make much headway before new ones arrived. I’d keep some unread to read when I had time – which never happened. I’d miss so many important emails because I was drowning in junk. My inbox had thousands of emails just sat there, being added to every day.
What’s the problem with this? I find 95% email are a huge waste of time – they take time away from the important things I need to be doing and are an added stress. And of course, make it so easy to miss those important emails.
Here’s what I did
Got to inbox ground zero
I took out the best part of a day to go through my inboxes, one by one. I have a few different email addresses, so it was not a fun task. But luckily, you’ll only have to put this level of effort in once, it will be easier from this point forward.
I was on so many mailing lists, the great ones were missed amongst the ones I have no idea why I was being sent. I made it a point from then on to unsubscribe to every pointless mailing list that was sending me emails. This is now only about 5 a day that I need to keep doing this for (initially it was hundreds each day). I’m now only subscribed to about 20 mailing lists for companies I’m really interested in. Those mailing lists for curtains, home studying, leaflet printing in London, cruises for the over 60’s – bye bye!
Turn of notifications
A lot of the companies and platforms I use were sending me notifications by email. Every time I was mentioned in a tweet, Twitter would email me. Every time I logged onto facebook from a new browser, another email. Every time someone joined a meetup group – sure, send me an email. I systematically went through and disabled all of these notifications – it’s resulted in a huge drop in emails.
Change my folder structure
I used to keep my emails in my inbox – now I keep my inbox as close to zero as I can – and have set up some meaningful folders, that I can organise my correspondence into.
Use my different email addresses properly
I have a lot of different emails, which I use differently. I have an email address along the lines of firstname.lastname@example.org (not the actual email address ;-)) that I make sure is the only one I use for newsletters and competitions. I have my business email address and I have another that I only give out to friends. This makes it so much easier to be organised.
The three sentence rule
I love this one – I get so many emails every day that are hundreds and hundreds of words long. I used to read an email like this, and feel I’d need to park it and reply with an equally long response when I got time – which never happened. Now I send a maximum of three sentences back. It means I can reply far quicker, instead of never getting round to it – a far better compromise I think.
I get so many emails very similar in nature – I spend some time setting up templates that would answer the most common emails. This means I can very quickly copy and paste – and get the response out.
I’d love to hear the state of your inbox right now? Do you have any good tips for keeping on top of it?