This is a common occurrence in cubicles and home offices around the world.
“Did you get my e-mail?”
“Oh, which one?? I don’t think I saw it, I have hundreds of messages I still need to sort through!”
Inbox overload takes its toll and limits the productivity of many. It is hard to actually get stuff done when you have so many messages to sort through and remember what is important. Here are a few simple things you can do to help sort out your life, stop inbox overload, and actually get stuff done.
The first step is simple but important to avoid inbox overload. If you haven’t synced your inbox to your smartphone so that you can check your inbox on the go, you should. Your smartphone is with you all the time, and you can easily spend a few minutes while waiting in lines, doctor’s offices, or your kid’s soccer game to start decluttering. You are not limited to time in your actual office, and that can help free up time later. Just make sure you put the phone down when it’s time for kick off!
The next step is an easy organization technique. Most e-mail providers allow you to set up folders for your mail. Create folders with logical titles so that you can file your messages into categories that you can quickly locate later. As you get new messages, having a place to put them will help you actually get stuff done later.
Once you have folders, take an hour or two (or three!) and go through all your messages. If you don’t need it, delete it. If it fits the topic of one of the folders, move it there. Once you clean out your inbox initially, it will make inbox overload more manageable.
As an ongoing rule, deal with your inbox as the messages come in. If you get a message you don’t need to see, delete it right away. That way, you won’t lose important messages among the junk. If you get junk mail, unsubscribe or opt out.
These few steps can help you manage your inbox overload and, with diligence, you can actually get other stuff done.