Friday, March 10, 2017

Inbox Zero

I have posted about how to efficiently organize and archive your email, hack your junk mail and even archive your sent mail. I believe that your inbox is your to-do list. If you have a cluttered inbox, it is hard to find your priority. Today I am going to share my top 10 tips on how to keep your inbox tidy 

1. Send Everything to the Trash

At the end of the day, most of the email I receive ends up in the trash. Why not start there? I start by sending all emails with "@" in address (all emails that I know of) to the trash with a simple Microsoft Outlook rule. (See Hack Your Junk Mail)

2. Allow Exceptions

I augment this rule by allowing emails from my organization's domain and the domain of our parent and sister organizations.

3. Allow More Exceptions

As I find emails in the trash that I do not want automatically sent there, I add them to the exceptions list either by specific email address or domain. After a few weeks, the email that ends up in the trash usually belongs there, even if I want to read them first.

4. Batch Your Email Viewing

Once you have streamlined your inbound email, you will need to check it less frequently. Some people have even as gone as far to setup an auto-reply message informing senders that they only check their email at certain times and to use more direct methods of contact (email or text) if it is urgent.

5. Identify Important Emails Quickly

When you do finally check your email, you want to identify the important emails quickly. I use Microsoft Outlook conditional formatting to mark emails from my Boss, the Executive Leadership Team, and their Assistants with a different color and font to ensure they stand out.

6. Delete Unimportant Emails

Once you address the important emails, it is time to address the rest of your email.  Not all emails that make it through your filters are golden. If you batch your email viewing, you will quickly spot chains, or threads, of email subjects that occurred in your absence. You can usually pare this list down to the most recent emails, except, but be sure to review emails with attachments wherever they lay in the chain. If the email does not require action from you, or contain any vital information that you would want to reference later, delete it.

7. Use Cloud Archives

Emails that do not require any action from you, but you do want to reference later should be archived somewhere. For this, I use Evernote. Evernote is a cloud based system that can be used to store notes,  business cards, emails, documents photos and so much more. There are many other ways to organize your documents in the cloud, you will just need to figure out what works for you and/or your organization.

8. Use Short-Cuts

I use Microsoft Outlook Quick Steps to send Evernote emails to frequently used @Folder and #Tag combinations at the click of a button, instead of having to type them into address bar and subject line each time.

9. Use Reminders

Just because an email is not important now, does not mean you will not need to review it later. There are many ways to be reminded. Calendar reminders, Evernote reminders and, just to name a few.

10. Get Family, Friends, and Coworkers Involved

I have done my best to share these tips with my coworkers and employees. Once they understand my motivation and how I use email, we communicate much more efficiently.

Stay well engineered,

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These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These statements or products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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