Some say empty your inbox every day, some say set a limit to how many emails you’re comfortable with. My limit is one screen (i.e. no scrolling). My inbox is limited to things I need to do right away or that are so important I want them staring me in the face until they’re done.
After you’ve cleared your inbox, it’s time to deal with the ones you need to act on or to keep for reference. First, we’ll set up easy to remember folders in your inbox. Create as many as you like. This is just one method for designing your folders; it depends on what your life looks like.
Create subfolders within your inbox:
- Read: Move any non-critical emails that you want to read, but don’t have time right now here. The great thing is that by the time you can read them, many will be useless anyway, so they won’t take up much time.
- Think About: Move emails here that you don’t want to decide on now, don’t need any action, but you’d like to look at from time to time to see if you want to pursue them.
- Follow Up: Move emails that you’re waiting for answers on here. As soon as the answers come in, either delete or file these emails. Keep them only if they contain info that isn’t available elsewhere.
- Reference Folders: Make a list of the broad categories of email you get. You can change these any time, so don’t worry whether they’ll last forever. Most things in your life should fit into one of your broad categories. Some examples would be clients, prospects, resources, bills, etc.