I think you’ll agree with me: We get too many emails! One problem with email overload is that it steals your attention from actual work.
Fighting A Losing Battle
Maybe you have 3,000 UNREAD emails in your inbox and you find it challenging to read through every email. You get frustrated, then just delete them all. Or if you’re like me, you don’t delete anything unread because you’re afraid of missing out on something important. As a result, you spend more time reading emails than doing more important priorities in your work and life.
Say you spend 3 hours painfully reading through every email. Sure, you may get your inbox to zero, but what happens next week? Before you know it, your inbox will most likely overflow again without staying consistent with some processes and email systems.
If It Happens More Than Once, Create A System
Your email problem won’t go away just because you don’t like it. I’m sure it’s not the first time that your email situation has given you a headache.
Any problem that happens more than once is a system problem. You need a better system or structured way to deal with your inbox.
So here’s a better way to deal with your inbox:
The fine print: I didn’t promise you that the method I use is fancy. But it works.
Step #1. Regroup Your Emails
Your emails probably fall into the following groups. Here’s how to deal with each type of email overload:
Let’s be honest, you signed up for those newsletters probably because they’re free. You don’t really read them. If so, do yourself a favor and unsubscribe to the ones you haven’t read for 2 months.
I hate spammers…I use Gmail and Gmail does have solid anti-spam services. When I get hundreds of emails a day, most of those emails never make it to the inbox. They go straight to the spam folder.
I often get notifications from Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, etc. Soon they are filling up my inbox, I create a filter in Gmail that will automatically put these into a folder and mark them as read, or trash them. You can always go check on them in your “notifications” folder if you like, but they won’t clutter your inbox.
4) Stupid jokes
Your friends may send jokes to your email (Thank God, I don’t have any friends like that). If that’s a problem, email them and let them know that while you appreciate them thinking of you, you’d rather not receive those emails. Don’t want to hurt their feelings? They’ll grow up.
Bottom line: Only the essentials make it to your Inbox.
Step #2. Create Templates to Answer Common Questions
Chances are, you’ve typed the same answers over and over again…
Like I mentioned earlier, if something happens more than once, it’s more efficient to have a system to deal with it. Much like how customer services have scripted answers to most common customer issues. Why can’t you copy that idea and apply to your email responses?
Simply create a template, keep it handy somewhere (e.g. in your email draft file. Evernote, etc.) then copy and paste each time you need it.
If you use Gmail, Gmail’s canned responses can help you with the whole process.
You may need to modify some templates to add a little personal touch, but it still saves time if you are just changing one sentence to a 300-word email template vs. writing a 300-word email over and over again.
Step #3. Deal With Batch Emails
You can’t get away with all the emails with Step 1 and 2. Certain emails require quick action (like 20 seconds each). For those, I created filters that send them into a “deal with them all together” folder and process them once or twice a day. It only takes a few minutes to finish the whole folder, but they don’t clutter my inbox.
P.S. If you’d rather pay someone to check your email for you, you can also outsource your inbox to an assistant or a virtual assistant.
Related Post: How to Love Your Inbox Again
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