Is your email inbox out of control? I know mine is. I have multiple email addresses associated with my blogs and a personal account, and I use one email client to view them all, Apple Mail. I do suggest that regardless of which operating system you use that you use a client like Apple Mail, Outlook or Thunderbird to keep all of your accounts in one place and keep you from logging in and out of multiple emails on a browser. I have tried using browser-based solutions paired with tools like “The Email Game” and “Boomerang” but, it seems like as soon as I make some progress there are a thousand emails taking over the inbox again. But on my mission to achieve “Inbox Zero” I refuse to give up I have found a new method that I am excited to implement.
Achieving Inbox Zero is a slow process to get to this but I know that once I have filtered through thousands of emails it will much easier to keep it at Inbox Zero with this method. The four folder method.
This keeps things sorted and out of the inbox so that you can deal with them as you need to, or better yet, when you have time (like all those newsletters you want to read but come in a pesky times and interrupt your workflow.) I also find that only opening my email at scheduled times during the day helps, this keeps me from clicking over every time a notice pops up and just leaving it there. I am trying to implement a new rule of only touching the email once. That way I don’t have items that I need to read, respond to, or file just cluttering up the inbox. I am sure by now you are dying to know what the four must have folders are.
- To Do Folder: This is pretty self-explanatory. The To Do Folder is the folder that you place emails that have something that you need to do included in them, such as answer a question or schedule an appointment. These are things that you need to do but not necessarily immediately. It is great to clear this folder once a day. Once you have placed the email in this folder and come back and finished the task. You are ready to archive/file/delete the email. There is no point in holding on to past this point.
- Waiting For Folder: This the folder that you could place emails that you are waiting for a response from, this is great if you asked a question or are waiting for a response. The Waiting For folder gives you place to hold these emails so that you can quickly go through and see if you have received your response yet. Or if you need to send a follow up email. This folder keeps these emails from being pushed to the bottom of your inbox. Which could result in missing out on some great opportunities because you didn’t follow up in time and/or the party simply lost your email in their inbox.
- Reading List Folder: This is the folder to store all those emails you want to read or re-read, but are not important, like newsletters. You subscribed to them for a reason but if you don’t set a specific time aside to read them they are just a waste of digital space and your inbox can breathe without them there. I like to sort emails into this folder and then read them in the evening when I have time to pay attention without being distracted by things I need to be doing instead.
- Later Folder: Sometimes you have emails that for one reason or another you are not ready to part ways with but they are not anything that you need to take action on. The Later folder is the perfect place to store them. It gives you a holding place until you are ready to archive or delete the email but keeps it easily accessible until then.
There you have the four folders you need to help you reach Inbox Zero and keep it. Not only will this keep you less stressed when checking your emails but you won’t be tempted to spend hours every day just scrolling through and trying to remember why you are holding on to a particular email.
Challenge: Create these four folders in your inbox and start sorting. I would love to see pictures of your Inbox Zero. Just upload to your favorite social media with the #InboxZero #SMSDChallege hashtags.
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