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Productivity: The case for an organised email inbox

Less emails in an inbox equals more dollars in your pocket. Why? Because the more that’s piled into your inbox the more likely you are to lose track of new opportunities and see a dip in personal productivity. Here’s how to break the cycle and eliminate excessive emails.

I always say a clear space equals a clear mind. But I don’t just mean literal space, I mean cyber, computer and email space too. Too many times I have come across people who have too many emails sitting in their inbox. 100, 200, 500, 3026… are you one of these people? And if you are, how do you get anything done and how do you keep track of where you are up to?

I have never been able to get my head around having a million emails in the inbox. For good reason too, I believe. Think: “less emails in the inbox is more dollars in your pocket”. Why? Because the more you have piled in your inbox, the easier it is for you lose track of things, forget to respond to emails, miss opportunities or parts of the conversation – and so on.

My other and most important reason is health related. If you are one of the majority of people who regularly have more than your fair share of emails clogging up the system, you are teetering very close to the edge of the stress cliff and it’s not long before you go crashing down. That is of course, if you’re not at the bottom already. Some of the effects of stress are frequent headaches, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, feeling overloaded or overwhelmed, increased frustration, reduced work efficiency… all of this just because of a few emails.

Ask yourself, is it worth it?

For many, managing the flow of email messages is a huge challenge. One minute you feel like you are on top of things and the next day when you are back in the office you have another 200 emails to sift through. It’s a never ending, vicious cycle.

The only emails you should have left in your inbox should be the emails that are waiting to be responded to or actioned. Then they should be closed off and filed, never to disturb you again until you require them. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to scroll down the page to find emails, you probably have too many sitting in your inbox.

So how do we break the cycle? How do we eliminate excessive emails?

First things first… Don’t be afraid to delete. If you didn’t look at the email when it first came in, chances are you don’t need it so be ruthless. If you tend to get 100 emails a day from one particular person or source that you know you don’t look at, sort by ‘from’ and wipe them all out at once.

Second, unsubscribe. I know this is a tough one – how will we keep on top of things if we aren’t subscribed to the information that keeps us up to date? Let me ask you this – how many, out of the 50 odd subscription emails you receive a day, do you actually have the time to open up and read? Maybe one or two? If you do religiously read through these one or two emails, keep these but unsubscribe from the rest.

And finally, file. Use a basic system that works for you and file as you have actioned and responded to emails. The important part here though is creating a filing system that works for you – it absolutely must be simple and memorable so that you will continue to use it on a daily basis.   

Now, I have some emails to file… do you?

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Jessica Reid

Jessica Reid

Lady Calamity is a personal organiser with panache and elegance who offers organising and time management solutions with a woman’s touch. Lady Calamity was founded when Jessica Reid saw that many business owners don’t find the time and often don’t have the knowledge to organise their space effectively. She is also passionate about showing people how to separate home and work life by showing them how to best use the time that they have. Jessica has over 9 years’ experience in time management, organising, decluttering and creating clean and professional spaces both for businesses and homes. She has a firm belief that a clear space not only helps you to become more effective and efficient, it also affects your mind space.

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