Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tame that e-mail inbox...

I cut the messages in my e-mail inbox from over 600 to only 128. 

I was overwhelmed with not only the amount of e-mail I was receiving, but also by how many emails were in my main inbox. I couldn't find specific messages easily when I needed them, and a chore that should take minutes every day was consuming an hour or more at times.

It kind of made me want to scream...

Can You Hear Me Yet by STILphotography on Etsy

Last week, I decided to tame my e-mail inbox. 

I started by doing the following:
  • changed my spam filter settings;
  • review the spam folder once weekly, instead of daily; and
  • evaluated mailing lists I was subscribed to, and unsubscribed from any I wasn't excited to see in my inbox or that I hadn't used/read/looked at in at least a monththis alone cleared out a ton of e-mail!
After completing those three steps, I committed to focusing on individual topics each time I open my e-mail. For example, only dealing with personal correspondence or sorting through e-mails for deals/sales on shops/vendors I like, or focus only on work related e-mails. To make that manageable I did the following:
  • I created subfolders for specific topics and sorted almost all of the messages I wanted or needed to keep into those subfolders.
    • Examples of my subfolders: Amanda Genther**, Apartments, Financials, Freelance, Friend#1, Friend#2, Friend#3, Continuing Ed, Etsy/Half/Ebay, Leonie Dawson**, Michelle Ward**, Tutoring, Writing Submissions.
    • I also have a few hidden folders for things I need to keep but don't need to look at very often.
Once or twice per day, I sort new messages into those folders WITHOUT READING the new messages unless they are urgent.

Then, when I have time to dedicate to ONE CATEGORY of messages, or one topic, I go through that folder ONLY. As I go through that one folder, I also decide what to take action on (save/keep, what to print and then delete (so I have a hardcopy only), what to forward, what to respond to, etc.) and then I DO THAT ACTION.

I've gone from obsessively checking my inbox to now only checking and sorting new messages once or twice per day (total: less than five minutes of my time), and tackling one folder every day or two (with time varying depending on my goals). Most days this simple task has freed up anywhere from an hour to three or four hours! (Seriously, I was spending that much time just on e-mail! Ridiculous!) 

I now have a lot more time every day for my son, our dogs, fun, and working on my own interests.

**These three ladies are solopreneur goddesses! I love them, and hope you will check them out!  (Please note, I do  have an affiliate relationship with Leonie Dawson, but even if you don't purchase anything from her, I really do encourage you to follow her because she has tons of wisdom to share!)

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