Spring cleaning your email inbox
Every spring, most people get the urge to purge, the need to be freed from hibernation and hoarding mode of winter, but many people miss their email inbox as a source of clutter. But let’s face it – most people could use some sprucing up of their overloaded email inbox.
Dmitri Leonov, VP of Growth at SaneBox says there are eight key ways you can clean up your email inbox right now, and what habits you should develop to keep that inbox clean.
Don’t let email be your #1 priority: Email is a to-do list other people can write on. Be proactive and focus on your own to-do list. Scan your Inbox for urgent/important items in the morning, then work on your top priorities. Dedicate blocks of time to processing email, and treat it as one of your priorities – not the default Priority #1.
If you’re ever sucked into “doing email”, ask yourself “Is clearing my Inbox really the best use of my time right now?” Eventually it will be – but make a conscious decision about it.
2. Urgent vs. Non-Urgent
Not all emails are created equal: Some emails need to be dealt with right away (urgent/important). Some can wait (non-urgent/important). And others should be archived/deleted in bulk (unimportant).
According to our data, the unimportant bucket is 58% of emails on average. Don’t let yourself get distracted by unimportant email.
3. Deal with bacn
Bulk-process your bacn: Spam has largely been solved, but the new evil is bacn (pronounced “bacon”). It’s legitimate mail: newsletters, updates from sites, social media alerts, mailing lists etc. But it doesn’t deserve to interrupt your day.
Some prefer to unsubscribe from all of that, but at the very least you need to process these unimportant messages in bulk. This is where SaneBox comes in – it groups these messages into a separate folder and summarizes them in a digest.
4. Two kinds of people
To file or not to file…That’s the wrong question! There are 2 kinds of people in this world: filers and non-filers. Know thyself and adjust accordingly. If you don’t mind searching in one massive archive, it’s ok – particularly if you’re a Gmail Search Pro. And if you prefer to have stuff neatly organized into sub-folders, that’s fine too. But don’t go overboard in either case. Find the happy medium.
Don’t use your Inbox as an archive: Listen very carefully, because this is important. Using your Inbox as an archive goes against every productivity method out there. It’s the equivalent of keeping all your snail mail in your mailbox. It’s terrible for your productivity, and for your Subconscious. Don’t do it. Archive it all now – right now – and start fresh.
Delegate: Just because an email lands in your inbox, doesn’t mean you need to be the one who takes care of it. If there’s someone who’s just as capable or perhaps more familiar with the subject – by all means, forward it on. One helpful hack is to use Sanebox’s RemindMe feature or Boomerang to remind you if the person you delegated to doesn’t get back to you by a certain time.
Defer: If an email is not urgent, or not actionable until later, most people tend to leave it in the Inbox. The problem is this causes you to look at it (i.e. spend time and focus thinking about it) every time you look in your Inbox. A much better way is to move it out of your Inbox. SaneBox offers yet another tool for this – Defer Folders. Move an email into one of them, and the email will pop back in your Inbox tomorrow morning, on Monday or any other predetermined time. This way you don’t have to worry about it until it becomes actionable. This is also what the new iPhone Mailbox app is all about.
8. Response times
Respond: If an email is really urgent, or if a response will take under 2 minutes, just reply now. Don’t waste time thinking of what to do with it.