Warning: You may find this daunting. Disclaimer: Don't. How many emails do you receive a day? Answer this to yourself. No one actually cares to hear you chanting numbers. Now, how many times do you push off answering emails because you're busy or you don't feel like it at the moment? Finally, how many unanswered emails fall through the cracks because they keep spiraling deeper and deeper into your inbox and eventually into the world of received-and-forgotten-about emails?
If you create a system for your email, you can avoid this and stay on top of what needs to be done. After all, everything comes through email nowadays, don't it?
I'll tell you about the system that I've created for myself because I swear it changed my life for the better. It helps me keep tabs on what I have to do, what events are coming up in my life, and who I have to get in touch with. Please read and be inspired.
First things first, I put everything into folders. EVERYTHING. My inbox only consists of emails that must be taken care of. Those are:
- emails that I must answer
- emails containing information about upcoming events (if I booked a flight for a month from now, lucky me the email stays in my inbox until I return from my trip. Or, if I had a correspondence with someone about meeting up, I'll keep the email in the inbox until I've met up with that person.)
- emails with information about something I must take care of (for example, a reminder about an application. Or an email from 100contacts which means I must order contacts.)
All other emails are either deleted (to hell with you, Spam!) or filed away into their folders. The folders can be broad or very specific depending on how you like them. Personally, I kept mine pretty broad since I can always run a search to help locate something specific. But point is, my inbox serves as a to-do list. It is only a place for the pending. A purgatory, if I may.
I know what you're thinking: my inbox is jam-packed with over 20,000 from the last 5 years. Am I right? If so, you can either try desperately to tackle this and get things in order (filing away 100 emails a day is doable and it'll only take a few months to get in order) or you can keep the important, pending emails on top or starred (assuming you use gmail. Please see equivalent for other email servers). But I promise, working to get the inbox organized and manageable is life altering. You can contact my roommate (poke her!) who has recently reformed her email system. I'm proud of you, girl.
Turns out that it's not easy to take a picture of yourself on your computer with your computer. So alas, this here meta shot: