Do you feel like email has taken over your life? Well, you’re not alone – in a recent study by Information Week, over three-quarters of the people surveyed said that email is essential to their lives – and an additional 15% say they’d rather lose their spouse than give up email! It’s important to remember that email is a tool that we can control – one that is meant to improve communication and make our lives easier. To that end, here are four top tips to wrangle that inbox:
- Smarten up your subject line. Put as much descriptive information in the subject line as possible, and your recipient will know what your message is about without having to even open your email. For instance, “Rescheduling Meeting: Orig. 6/1/07 3PM – New 6/1/07 5PM” is a lot better than “Meeting time changed” – the more descriptive, the better.
- Don’t use your inbox as a filing cabinet. Instead, create descriptive folders in your email program – by topic, client, vendor, etc. As you’re finished reading your messages, file them accordingly.
- Filter your messages to save a step. Once you’ve set up some folders, you can then tell your email program to automatically put messages from specific senders or with specific subject lines into the folders where they belong. For instance, if you’re receiving dozens of newsletters, create a “Newsletters” folder, and have your email program filter those emails right into the folder, bypassing your inbox entirely. In your email program, search the help for “rules” or “filters” for more instructions.
- Beware the 4000-message inbox. Instead of letting emails “pile up” in your inbox indefinitely, set a limit for how many messages you want to have sit in there at any given time – I recommend no more than 25 or so (once you have more than that, it’s hard to actually see what’s in there). Once your messages start growing past the limit that you set, schedule some time to process your email.