How to organise your emails.
If your inbox is splitting at the seams, buckling under the weight of years of inattention and your devices feature multiple figures in that little 'unread' box of misery, help is at hand!
We make it easy to ease your email anxiety and sort out your digital life:
Delete it all
Does this sound extreme? Don't worry - our advice isn't to highlight the lot and hit the delete button! But we do advise holding only unopened, new messages in your inbox.
If you've read it then it should be dealt with and filed. Imagine if you left letters and bills to pile up by your front door? Now imagine you got as much mail as you do email! Pretty soon you wouldn't be able to open the door.
Fortunately your email box has features that your home or office probably doesn't: filters, automations and unlimited folders to make dealing with it all a breeze.
Start with the junk. Use your search function to look up all mail you received for things you aren't currently interested in (i.e. latest flight prices, offers etc.) - delete them all. Unsubscribe if you no longer want them or set up a rule to send emails from this company to a dedicated folder.
Do the same with suppliers and regularly used companies such as merchants, affiliations, insurances, memberships etc. File into separate folders based on type/supplier (i.e. Amazon purchases, Insurance, Car Lease etc.)
Each customer/project should have their own folder. Keep all your communications including sent into these folders, so you never lose a vital piece of the puzzle.
Go through your inbox one by one, searching the sender in the search bar and putting everything into its place or deleting/unsubscribing, so you have a nice clear space for new mail to flood into!
The Wonders of Technology
Auto-filter is your friend! You can set up rules and filters for your regular correspondance that automatically files it into a folder, forwards it to someone else or even just deletes it (although if you're doing that, maybe consider unsubscribing instead).
G-mail users can archive certain emails automatically - for example, a receipt for your direct debit payments. Add the label “Receipts.” The email will never sit in your inbox but if you ever need it, you'll be able to find it easily.
"Boomerang" your emails. You know... throw it away safe in the knowledge that it'll be back! The Boomerang plug-in is currently available for Gmail and Outlook and will help you schedule an email to vanish and then return when you’re ready to deal with it. You get a clear inbox and the email will pop up again unread at the top of the pile, so you don't just put it to one side and forget about it entirely (we've all done it).
Boomerang also lets you schedule an email to send at a set time - if you're working late at night but don't require an immediate answer, it may be prudent to set your message to send during working hours.
It can even act as polite nudge to get back in touch with someone you've not had a response from. The last email will magically appear at the top of your messages if they've not got back to you and you can administer your best, passive aggressive "any thoughts" reply.
Managing Multiple Mailboxes
These days we usually have multiple mailboxes to deal with. If you can consolidate some into a single mailbox this may help you to stay on top of it.
Your phone or computer-based email client can do the hard work for you here. Have all your accounts in one place, so you don't need to use multiple browser tabs open to manage all the accounts.
That said, to create some separation between your work and your life it's helpful to have these two portals into your digital life split. Have your personal inboxes on your portable devices native email client and then use a downloaded app (such as Outlook or Gmail depending on how your email is set up) for work, so you need to make a conscious effort to switch between the two.
Email Zen is just a few clicks away! The longer you wait the worse it's going to get. If you really can't face it then you can get your Another Mother account manager to organise this for you. Sorting out filing systems is one of our specialities! Calm restored.