30 Days to an Organized Life Day 27
Yesterday we talked about how to organize digital photos, the hidden clutter on your phone and computer. Today we’re addressing (pun intended!) your email.
If you are super organized and accomplish inbox zero everyday please move to the back of the line. This post is for those of us who struggle to deal with all of the electronic communication flowing into our lives. Before I instituted a system of dealing with email I had — count ’em — 6474 emails in my inbox.
It’s ridiculous, I know.
And to be honest, I still have 1852 that I need to deal with but only 10 or so of them are current. I am a work in progress.
So let me share my system with you in the hopes that Email Procrastinators Anonymous loses some members.
You know how having piles of paper lying around is mentally and emotionally draining? Keeping piles of emails in a disorganized mess has the same effect. A filing system is an absolute must in order to manage it all.
Think about the different kinds of email you receive and create folders for the emails you would like to keep. Some of my current folders include:
bills – bills that I have paid or need to pay this month;
homeschool – correspondence with our school system, field trip info, correspondence from tutors;
important info – address for a party we’re invited to, info I need for a current work project
business newsletters – newsletters get filed here and I look at them once a week;
Don’t worry about figuring out the perfect folder names right now. You can work on this over time and when you want to keep an email but it doesn’t belong in any of your current folders you can create a new one.
Have I mentioned how much I love Evernote? I previously stored email after email in folders because the information was “valuable” and I wanted to be able to access it later. Did I? Rarely. It actually reminds me of an episode of “Hoarders”.
With Evernote I can clip the info from a website link or copy it from an email and then tag it so that I can easily find it later. Some of the current folders I have in Evernote are Organization Tips, Recipes to Try, Blog Post Topics, Party Plans, Art Journaling Ideas and Business Improvement. I also keep my Master To Do List there so I can easily refer to it.
Click here to learn how join Evernote for free.
Some email services allow you to set up filters so important emails go right into the folder(s) you designate rather than you having to deal with manually moving them into folders. This saves an amazing amount of time but you will probably want to set a time in your schedule to go through the folder so these emails don’t silently pile up in the folder.
To keep the inbox as empty as possible you need to make quick decisions about what to do with each email as it comes in:
- delete (ads, information you don’t need)
- read and respond (quick correspondence)
- read and file (newsletters, information you need to keep)
- add to to-do list and file – (bills, work information, invitations — add the info to your calendar or to do list then file)
It may help you to write these types of emails on a post it to help you more quickly decide which category an email falls into.
Today’s Task 1: Spend 10 minutes setting up folders in your email inbox and processing as many emails as you can.
Today’s Task 2: Schedule a weekly time on your calendar to spend 10 minutes cleaning up old emails.
I have had several requests to create a printable form of the 30 Days posts so that you can more easily access them and refer to them later. You will be happy to know that I have created the 30 Days to an Organized Life ebook.
The book is based on the blog posts from the series but I have also:
- updated and added additional information;
- incorporated the ePlanner pages into the book so you know exactly where to use them and you can personalize the tasks;
- added the 30 Day Task Calendar so you can see at a glance what you need to do each day;
- created a Ten Minute Tasks List with over 50 quick tasks to help you when you get stuck.
This is the book for you if you feel overwhelmed or if you simply need a plan to get life back on track.
Grab the 30 Days to an Organized Life ebook.
Click here to see what’s included!
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I created a folder called “@todo” (the @ makes it the first in the list) and anything that I need to do and/or respond to goes there. I check this once every day. Everything else either gets trashed, responded to or filed in one of many folders, just like regular mail.
Once I respond, I file it, as it is now on the other person to respond back if needed.
This helps me not have any messages in my inbox and all other messages are read and labeled.
The Peaceful Mom says
That is a brilliant solution Emilie! Thanks for sharing it.
Elise Kline Christopherson says
I am just terrible keeping my email up to date. Thanks for the tips, maybe this will motivate me to actually sort through stuff instead of throwing it in weirdly labeled folders just to get it out of my inbox.
The Peaceful Mom says
You can do it Elise!