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Inbox Zero

One of my team members asked me for some tips to get email organized, and I realized she probably wasn't the only one who could benefit. This blog might not apply to all moms so forgive me if it isn't for you. This is for anyone who feels overwhelmed by daily email.

Remember life before email? You had to write a letter or type a memo if you wanted to get a message across. You only wrote what was really important. Now, we send emails for any idea pops in to our mind. We literally could spend our entire day on email. Besides the spam and marketing emails, you could continue to converse back and forth with no end in site. I have seen team members' inboxes filled with thousands of emails. That would make me nuts. It would cause me stress that I might miss something. I personally don't like email and don't consider email to be my work. So, I have learned some tips and tricks to get to inbox zero (a phrase from Merlin Mann) almost every single day! I can get my inbox to zero in almost twenty minutes. Just realize that zero doesn't mean done. It just means there's a plan.

1) Set aside certain times of day for email. A dedicated block in the morning and a block at the end of your work day is good. Don't try to do email between other projects. That's multi tasking and we've discussed that it doesn't work. If you want to check it at the top of each hour, do so, but don't get sucked in. Do not leave email open during your work day. .. If you check your email every 5 minutes, you are checking email more than 24,000 times per year!

2) Delete or archive as many emails as possible. If you work in Gmail, click on the little empty square box on the left to select all. Deselect the emails you want to keep. Then hit delete!

3) If the request in the email can be done in two minutes or less, do it.

4) If the request can be delegated, do that.

5) If the request is some sort of a project or something that will take some time, schedule it on your calendar. Think about how long it will take. Does it need multiple appointment slots? At least schedule time for the next step.

6) If the email is an event, export it to your calendar. In Gmail, I can link to an event right from the email.

7) If the email is not something you need to deal with yet, consider an app like Boomerang. This allows me to have the email sent back when I want to deal with it. Or can alert me if someone doesn't reply to an email.

8) If you use gmail, use labels. Labels can help you organize your emails in to categories such as personal, work, newsletters, kids, jokes, recipes...you name it. Some suggest having just a few labels such as to do, done, needs reply. Figure out what works for you so that your inbox can be optimized. Set rules so things like newsletters go in to a folder for a time when you are ready to read them.

9) When you write an email, close the conversation. Be brief. Be brilliant. Be gone.

10) Practice good team habits. Only cc people who really need to be copied. They are busy! Keep your emails brief so as not to waste your time writing and other people's time reading!

Hey, if you are one of the many people who have thousands of email in your inbox... Just select all and archive. Yes! I really just said that. Create a mass email or out of office response that alerts everyone you lost all your email and to send you something if it's important.

More tips on how to manage your email:

FINALLY REACH INBOX ZERO: FOUR EXPERT SOLUTIONS FOR YOUR EMAIL PERSONALITY

I hope these tips help you! Please share what works for you! Your time is precious. Don't spend it on email!