Friday, May 17, 2013

Drowning in emails?

How many emails are lurking in your inbox, waiting to be read, purged or acted upon?

It was fascinating at our recent Company of Women breakfast meeting to learn that the email pain threshold is different for everyone.  For some, it can be as few as 30, or for others around 200.  One woman ‘fessed that she had over 1,500 stuck in her inbox.

Years ago, before I started to tame the email monster, I remember having thousands of emails too.  Overwhelmed, and clearly out of my depth, I took drastic steps to clean up.  I deleted them.  Well, not all of them, but a good number that were past their "deal by" date.

I figured if I hadn’t dealt with them, then getting rid of them wasn’t going to make a huge difference now.  It’s a bit like the outfit in your wardrobe that is waiting for you to lose those last few pounds.  It ain’t happening – be bold and toss it.

However, I get a lot of email.  I just have to be away for a week and there will easily be 1,200 emails that have snuck into the box.  The difference now is I am more organized (read brutal).

One of the first things I did was unsubscribe to half the ezines I was getting.  I never had time to read them, and they were just gathering dust and taking up space.

Then I set up some folders, so that when I wanted to save an email or chain of correspondence, I would easily find it.  Now I have to say, I may have gone a bit overboard with the folders, but it is working for me.

When I get emails I don’t want, I delete them immediately and at the end of the week, I go through my inbox and try to pare it down to 40-50 emails, all of which require some action or I am waiting for a response from someone else.

Now at the breakfast, Deanne Kelleher, our guest speaker and expert gave us some other tips on moving emails to task lists, rather than letting them sit in your inbox and that I am going to try.

The other space guzzler is your send box.  Do you keep every email you ever sent?  Again, I took a hatchet approach to those emails.  After a certain date, like 2010, are you likely to refer back to the email?  Probably not.

Obviously there are important documents and email trails that you want to keep.  Anything related to money or agreements are important as you may need to pull them up to prove a point, but other than that… no.

Another email waster is when you are trying to set up a meeting with someone or worse, a group of people and you go to and fro on dates and times.  Try – it makes scheduling much easier.

Whether it is 30 or 30,000, getting on top of your email makes life much more manageable. After all, what did we do before we had email and wanted to connect with someone? We picked up the phone.  Now there’s a novel idea.

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