3 Easy Steps to Reducing Inbox Stress

Each day we are inundated with information that we need to process. A lot of this information comes in the form of e-mails. In fact, productivity experts say we spend up to 28% of our day handling e-mail. This blog post offers tips to help you get your e-mail under control, manage your tasks more efficiently, and free up time in your day.

Let’s begin with the inbox.

Is your inbox stressed out? The biggest mistake we make is using our inbox as a task management system. Think of your inbox as a temporary holding place, much like a physical mailbox it is not meant to keep items forever. In a perfect world e-mails are delivered, read, and processed on a regular basis. So how do we reduce inbox stress?

Step 1. Use the Four Ds to process e-mails:

  1. Do it: If it takes 2 minutes or less.
  2. Delegate it: Forward it to the appropriate person or group.
  3. Defer it: If it takes more than 2 minutes, use a follow up system.
    1. Examples: Flag it, leave it unread, create a reminder, or move it to a “TO DO” folder.
  4. Delete it: Delete emails you don’t need. File ones you need to keep for your reference.

Step 2. Convert action items to tasks:

By converting e-mails to tasks, you are removing actin items out of your inbox and into your task system. There they can be:

  • Prioritized
  • Scheduled
  • Delegated
  • Completed
  • Deleted

Note: Yahoo, Gmail, and Outlook all offer options for creating and managing tasks in the form of a to do list. I highly recommend establishing a task management system if you don’t already have one.

 Step 3: Yes, you can have an empty inbox!

End of Year Clean Up

  1. Create Archive folders
    1. Example: 2015 Processed E-mails
    2. Example: 2015 Year End Review
  2. Delete messages you don’t need to archive.
  3. Backup (USB drive or Cloud)
  4. Don’t forget about your Sent Folder

 The Benefits:

  1. Efficiency:   High priority tasks get done first
  2. Productivity: Spend much less time in your inbox
  3. Time Saved: Gain back at least 25% of your week
  4. Reduce Stress: Our mental limit for To-Do’s is remembering 6 -7 items at once.