A disorganized inbox full of emails can be overwhelming, intimidating, and a real time-suck. Especially when you’re trying to quickly find the information you need. Adopting good email practices can make managing your communications much easier and thereby increase your efficiency – not just at work but in your personal life too! Whether you aim to achieve “inbox zero” or just cut way down on the mountain of emails trying to get your attention every time you log in. (MaverickApp can help draft and schedule emails to people who want to hear from you right from your inbox at precisely the right time, too.)
Here are our top 8 email tactics to keep your inbox functioning like a well-oiled machine:
1. Unsubscribe from all newsletters that aren’t providing you value.
Almost everyone has found themselves on a mailing list they never really wanted (didn’t uncheck the sneaky box when filling out a form) or signed up for a newsletter that turned out to be endless sales pitches instead of useful information. Unwanted emails can easily overwhelm your inbox and make it difficult to focus on important messages. Most often people just hit “delete” every time…but it’s so easy to delete these time-wasters from your life forever! By law, all newsletters must include an unsubscribe link, so search your email for the word “unsubscribe” and click on that beautiful word to get rid of anything not bringing you value.
P.S. you can sign up for valuable emails from MaverickApp here!
2. Delete or archive every email you’re not going to do anything about
Here’s where the active cleaning begins – get ruthless with deleting or archiving old emails sitting in your inbox. Maybe you’ve already responded or aren’t planning to respond…archive them in a relevant folder or delete them entirely. Are there embarrassingly old emails you haven’t opened yet? If you’ve gone this long without reading them, it’s probably time to let them go too. Stop thinking aspirationally about what’s sitting in your inbox and live in the now.
A good way to efficiently find these emails is to search for names, email addresses, or keywords to round up similar emails and deal with them together. If you know you are archiving all emails from a specific sender this will save you a lot of time over considering each one as you come across them.
3. Respond Immediately…or don’t
Along these same lines, do your best to immediately deal with any email that needs a response, and then move on with your life. This does not mean you should constantly interrupt your work with any email that comes in – many people are best served by setting aside certain times of the day to check email and concentrating fully on other aspects of their work the rest of the time. But when it’s time to catch up on your emails, try to take care of them right away and get them out of your inbox.
An important management tip many people never consider is that many emails are better replied to with a verbal conversation or don’t really require a response at all. Unnecessarily responding to emails just opens the door for even more unnecessary replies from the other party…if you know what you have to do, stop talking about it and just do it!
4. Delete or archive emails once you’ve taken action.
Once you’ve read it, replied to it, or made a call because of it, get them out of your inbox. You probably won’t need to read that email again. If you do, you know what folder they’re in or can easily search for a keyword. When you’re waiting for a reply from someone before you can take action, you’ll probably get the original email quoted at the bottom of the reply, so read it there instead of having duplicate info sitting around.
5. Add tasks/events from reminder emails to your calendar, then delete or archive those emails.
Your inbox should not be serving as a calendar or to-do list! You’ve already got dedicated calendar programs that serve this function much better, so use them instead. Most have a notes section where you can enter any important details. Your email program may already be automatically suggesting to “add to calendar”, take advantage of it to save time and keep yourself organized.
6. Turn off email notifications from apps, forums, and social media.
This redundant information can quickly take up a lot of space, and most of it is far from important. Engage with your social media on your own terms…get those updates when you’re visiting there and keep them from intruding on your email workflow. Airplane mode is also a fantastic option when you really need to focus. (We like airplanes!)
7. Create separate email accounts for specific purposes
Having multiple accounts – such as one dedicated to work emails and another exclusively for personal emails – is a great tactic for keeping your inbox uncluttered and maintaining a healthy work/life balance. It’s also very useful to create an account just for situations where you suspect your address will be sold to spammers. With so many free email providers available, it’s easier than ever to organize your communications this way. Some providers allow you to view multiple accounts from one window, which cuts down on screen shifting and logging in or out of sign-ins.
8. Stay consistent with your system
A one-time cleanup will improve your inbox for now, but if you don’t adopt the tactics such as the ones our Wingmen find to be effective as an ongoing effort, you’ll soon find the clutter piling up again. Like most things in life, consistency of action is the key to success.
Don’t let incoming emails sit there unread and keep aware of new opportunities to “unsubscribe”!
After all, most people don’t allow their home to fill up with outdated newspapers, bills they dread opening, and piles of letters and postcards from friends. Why would you treat your email inbox differently? We hope you’ll adopt these 8 tips to clear your space – and your mind – and keep room for what’s most important in your life and business, filling your funnel and making that sale!