Get Control of Your Inbox

How to Get Control of Your Inbox

Staying on top of your email can be an overwhelming, time-consuming, and tedious task. It doesn’t take long to rack up a bajillion unread emails – and that’s the scientific number. For that reason, many modern employees feel like they have to check the constant influx of messages, often at the expense of other tasks. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

Here are some helpful tips for taking control of your inbox and ensuring you don’t forget to respond to an important message.

Schedule Email Processing Times

Since emails land in your inbox throughout the day – and sometimes evening and night – it’s easy to get distracted by constant notifications. Instead of reading each email as soon as it pops up, set aside some time every day to go through your inbox and respond. You can even set your email alerts so that you’re not notified every time you receive a new message.

You Don’t Have to Answer All Emails Immediately

When you are doing one of your regular email checks, make sure to only deal with those emails that can or need to be handled quickly. Here is a quick list of questions you can ask yourself for each message.

Does this email require an immediate response?

Urgency is unfortunately out of your hands, so if the email requires an immediate response, just take care of it as quickly as you can and move on.

Do I need to answer it at all?

Sometimes the answer is no. If it’s just an informational email like a newsletter that doesn’t require a response, you can read it and take note of any helpful information, or file it away for later.

Are you the right person to deal with this message, or should you delegate it to someone else?

There is nothing wrong with handing those peripheral tasks off to the right person. For example, maybe you’ve been recently promoted, but you are still receiving emails related to your former position. Even if you know the answer or can take care of the email yourself, still send it to the right person. You will clear your inbox quicker and have more time for doing your core work.

Do I need more information before responding?

If the answer is yes, ask that person for the information now so you can move the email off your plate. You can send a quick response to the sender, letting them know you’re working on it. Then file it away and set a reminder so you don’t forget to follow up later.

Can I answer this email right away – in less than 2 minutes?

Most of your emails can be answered fairly quickly and don’t require additional information from anyone else. If that is the case, answer the email right away. It will save you the time of re-reading, processing, and thinking about it a second or third time. Plus, the sooner you reply, the more acceptable a shorter response is to the sender.

Organize with Folders, Filters, Rules, & Labels

Create different folders to store your emails based on importance, urgency, how long it takes to handle them, or the kinds of actions they require. You can use filters and rules to direct incoming emails to those specific folders. Microsoft Office 365 Outlook has a “Focused Inbox” feature that can help filter out spam and promotion emails to make finding and checking those important messages easier. Labels are also a good way to organize and help you keep track of your emails by letting your sort through messages with different tags.

Mute/Ignore Email Threads You Don’t Need

If you have been CC’d on an email thread you don’t really need to be updated on, or you’re in a reply-all email thread, you can mute that thread to avoid getting all the responses. Just open any message in the thread, click the three dots at the top of the screen and select “ignore” or “mute” from the drop-down options.

If You Don’t Need It, Delete It!

Leaving a pointless email in your inbox is a waste of space. At the end of the week, give yourself some time to clear out the clutter and delete the emails you don’t need and will never read again. In Outlook, you can use the AutoArchive tool to delete messages based on policies of your choosing automatically. It’s a great way to regularly clear out a ton of emails with no specific retention – without even thinking about it!

If you’re still using a free email account, the first step to successfully managing your emails would be to register your own domain and represent your business professionally. Grand Technology Solutions is a Microsoft Partner and a trusted Microsoft Office 365 vendor, which means we provide superior support for those products!

Our experts can find ways to help improve your team’s productivity and efficiency with email, shared calendars and contacts, tasks, and other business functionalities. Give us a call at (904) 606-6011 or email to learn more about making the transition to Office 365.


Paul May