Conquering Your Email Inbox

Gina Trapani over at Fast Company has an interesting solution to your email overload.

How many messages are in your email inbox right now? A few dozen? It’s probably more like a few hundred, or even a few thousand. We all get too much email.

Getting through all those messages every day isn’t easy. Certain kinds of email are harder to deal with than others–the ones that require you to check your calendar or look up more information, type a lengthy explanation, or make a tough decision. It’s easier to procrastinate and leave those messages in your inbox when they mean work you weren’t planning to do right away. But new messages just keep piling onto old ones like a game of Tetris you’re about to lose.

Start using your email inbox like your postal box: empty it, every single time you check it. It’s not that hard to do. If you get into the habit, you’ll feel on top of your game like never before.

The key is to train yourself to make an on-the-spot decision about what you need to do with an email message–and put it in a place where you know you’ll get to it on time. You don’t need a complicated filing system. There are only three kinds of email messages: stuff you need to do, stuff you’re waiting on, and stuff you might want to refer to later. Make three folders in your email program: To-do, Reference, and Wait.

Photo by djayo.

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