Six Tips On How To Manage Your Email Inbox.
Everyone has been swamped by messages. If you survive long enough in a high-volume messaging environment, you learn several things.
The good news is that inbox software is always improving, and artificial intelligence is your ally. Let the system help.
Four basic tools that you need to adopt and get good at.
1.) Automatic Categorization – teach the system which sources are lower priority. Like Primary, Social, Promotions, Updates, News, Politics. (Gmail makes this easy.)
2.) Inbox Rules – Automate filtering senders to appropriate folders. I use ones like Volunteer, Job Search, Insurance, Business (by name.) This also works for spammy subject phrases, if you get them from a particular source. But I usually label these into a category and let the AI filter them for me.
3.) Automatic responses and prioritization – Also use inbox rules to acknowledge important senders. I issue a generic “Thanks, I’ll get back to you” and set the “Important” marker. (Which pushes the messages to the top of my Primary category.) This can buy precious time.
4.) Create Contacts – Make a habit of adding important new senders to Contacts right away. This makes it easy for the system to put email from them in your Primary tab.
5.) Account Segregation – Use three or four different accounts. Separate your business email correspondence from your personal email account. I have another account for Volunteer work. Restrict your highest priority communications to the account that is related to working at what’s important during business hours. This doesn’t mean you can’t check / monitor the other accounts, if you find some time to do so.
6.) Use notification settings – Use the messaging software on your appliances to choose which accounts can issue intrusive alerts. Buz, or beep … set your priorities accordingly. Silence less important traffic when you’re devoted to caring for what matters most.
These suggestions are just the basics. I try to make sure that every important sender is acknowledged in the first hour after their message lands in my inbox. For most associates, knowing that their message has been seen is enough to let them move on and not be held up waiting.
Email is an offline tool. If you’re working online in a project group or taskforce, the group messaging platform (like SLACK, or TEAMS) is a priority. It’s like working in a cube farm and talking with those nearby. Be sure to invest in those conversations first, and then window over to email.
And finally, learn about your inbox software when updates arrive. Often new capabilities are included to help manage an overflowing email account.