People are overwhelmed with the amount of email they receive. Partly this is due to the sheer volume that enters their inbox each day. That overwhelming feeling also happens because many of us don’t have a consistent process for managing our inbox.
In a recent post, Michael Kitces writes about how to regain control over your email inbox. I’ll summarize his six suggestions, but Michael’s article has many more details that make it well-worth reading.
- Sort into designated email folders. It doesn’t work to allow all your email to remain in your inbox. There’s no process and you don’t know if you are done with an email. Instead, create folders (by project, by customer, by newsletter) and sort your email into these folders.
- Using Rules to Help Sort Your Email. The rules functions in mail client applications enable you to apply rules that automatically route email into folders. You can then check these folders as needed, but they never clutter your inbox.
- Set Up Alias Email Addresses. If you give a talk at a conference, setup an alternate email address like email@example.com so people can send you questions. Then use a rule to route any email from this address into its own folder. The questions never clog your inbox and you can respond to the questions at a time you designate.
- Autoresponders: Giving A Timely Response And Setting Expectations. If you have a rule that lets you route an email to a folder, then you can also set up an autoresponder for that email. For those questions that you receive after the conference, let them know you received their question, you’ll answer it soon, and point them to additional information.
- Unsubscribe From The Spam! Keep the inflow trimmed by unsubscribing. There was a time when unsubscribing left you vulnerable to more email, but the CAN-SPAM act made that illegal. If you see emails that you never read anymore, unsubscribe.
- Use Content Curators. Instead of subscribing to all those email newsletters, just subscribe to a few people who have made it their job to curate content that interests you. For me, that includes Jason Hirschhorn’s Media REDEF on media and Barry Ritholtz, a wealth manager on Wall Street. You can also curate your own content in an RSS reader like Feedly. If everything goes to your reader, then there is little need to use email subscriptions to receive newsletters.
Email is a fact of life for most of us. The most we can do is develop processes to consistently manage our inbox. Michael has some great suggestions to keep control of our inbox.