virtual assistant supportSo how do you manage your emails?  Are you one of these people who puts off managing their emails until their storage pings up saying there is no space available?  Or are you aiming for a zero inbox and making sure your messages are clear by the end of the day?  The end result for both is unmanageable.

Keeping mountains of emails sitting and clogging up your inbox, aside from using up your time trying to recall a message you have received, but it is the easiest way to miss important information or deadlines.

Aiming for a zero inbox is an unhealthy and unsustainable way to manage your incoming messages.  Your focus will be spent aiming to keep the number down that you will be checking them far too frequently and become distracted from getting on with other tasks and projects.

Someone once said to me to think of my inbox like my paper in tray and each of those emails was a sheet of paper.  How comfortable are you with having it overflowing and having piles and piles of paper everywhere, or having it completely empty.

So how do you manage to stay on top of your inbox but stop your emails from managing you?

Limit how many times a day you check your emails

First thing in the morning is a must to review anything that may have come in overnight and lets you know where you’re at for the day.  You should limit to checking your messages to another 2-3 times throughout the day.  Get into the habit of checking them again mid-morning, after lunch and just before you finish up for the day.  If you’re worried about something coming through urgently that you may miss, why not set up an autoresponder.  It can alert the sender that you have received the message and will come back to them shortly but also advise them if the message is urgent to give you a call (including the best number).  Text messages, messenger services and email have taken over by ways of communication that people often forget to pick up the phone.

Prioritise your emails

I personally am not a fan of filtering emails as I’ve seen many a time where it has gone wrong and something important has slipped through the net.  If you are going to use filters I would recommend doing for the unimportant stuff such as marketing emails, offers, promotions etc to go into a specific folder that you review once a week.  Even if you do set up a filter, you need to make sure that you check the folder regularly to sort through and deal with the messages as they will soon pile up!

Opt Out

Regularly delete emails without even looking at them? Then use the opt out option and stop them from coming through!  There are websites such as Unroll Me that can manage this aspect for you and will review and monitor when new sign ups start coming through.

Touch it once

I love this method but it does take some getting used to!  The idea is that once you have received an email, you only look at the message once.  We can waste valuable time reading messages over and over again, trying to decide how we are going to deal with it or thinking we will come back to it later.  Use the ADFD principle – action, delegate, file or delete.  If it’s something that isn’t straightforward and needs coming back to then you can still action it – the action will be to advise the sender you have received and will come back to them, whilst then scheduling time in to complete it.

Create and use folders

Don’t leave everything to pile up in your inbox.  It makes it harder to sort through and retrieve.  Using appropriate folders means you can put everything relevant in the same place and much quicker to find something when you need to revert back and gets rid of the amount building up in your inbox.

Use templates

If you frequently send a standard email, maybe with a quote, an invoice or some blurb about the services you offer, why not create a template.  When the time comes to send it you can tweak it and personalise it for the recipient, but would have saved yourself time in composing the main message again.


Working on emails late in the day and don’t want to either disturb the recipient or appear to be working every hour of the day? Use a scheduler such as Boomerang for Gmail, MailButler for Applemail or Send Later for Outlook.  Compose the message and schedule when you want the message to go out.

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There is definitely an art to getting the right balance of managing your emails.  Spending too much time aiming for a zero inbox takes away your focus and let’s your inbox manage you, but not taking control can have severe consequences if you miss an important message.

If you need help either managing your inbox on a regular basis, or just need some help to filter through and get the number down, why not contact me for a FREE consultation and see how I can help you to stop your inbox from managing you.  Email or call 07538 715537.