Beat the Monday blues with a simple system to declutter your inbox
Picture this: it’s Monday morning. You’ve rushed yourself and the kids out the door, gotten your morning coffee, and sped toward your desk just in time to punch in. Before the day even starts, you’ve balanced a million small tasks and decisions – and now you have a busy day ahead of you.
As you sip your coffee, you try to get your bearings by checking your email – the quiet and focus will do you some good, right?
You open your inbox and are met with a slew of messages – some important, some insignificant, some nothing more than chain mail and memes from your well-meaning relatives. Before you know it, you’ve sunk an hour into responding and sorting, and you’re definitely not feeling like you were able to catch a breath before you have to move on to your meetings.
An overflowing inbox can make even the most organized person feel overwhelmed. For most of us, digital clutter is just part of life, and sorting through the tasks and messages is a daily chore.
Believe it or not, there is an easier way. With just a few simple steps, you can conquer or your inbox (or at least make it easier to manage). If you’re ready to dump the morning email time-suck, then here are a few tips to declutter your email inbox and keep it that way.
Start with the obvious junk
Decluttering your inbox doesn’t have to take all day. Break it down into small, manageable pieces that you can accomplish in just a few minutes. To start, address your spam mail.
Most email providers come equipped with basic spam filters, so it’s not as common to get random requests for wire transfers as it used to be. Spam looks different than it used to and is mostly comprised of retail promotions, social media notifications, delivery confirmations, and the like.
Set aside about 10-30 minutes to go through all of this spam. Set a timer and start mass deleting. You can make this really easy by filtering your inbox (using the search feature) for specific senders – like Facebook, for example. Select all and hit delete. Repeat until you’ve cleared out the stuff you know you don’t need.
Next, go ahead and “unsubscribe” for any newsletters, promotions, or notifications that you know you don’t want or even read anymore. Most of us check Facebook pretty regularly. So, there’s no need to keep getting those notification emails, especially when your inbox is already overflowing.
Same goes for coupons, clothing stores, brands, or promotions. If you don’t use them, don’t stay on the list. Chances are, you won’t even miss them! If you do, you can always subscribe later.
Create your organizational system
Once you’ve cleared out the obvious clutter, start creating your organizational system. Everyone likes to do this differently, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Try not to get too technical, set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour, and don’t let yourself get sucked into a time-warp. Your system can be as complex or simple as you like, but we recommend keeping things as straightforward as possible.
You can create folders and sort based on topic or sender, add subfolders, or simply create a folder for priority tasks, get-to-it-later tasks, things to save, etc. If you don’t finish everything in the time you’ve allotted, don’t worry. Just create a “to file” folder and put your unsorted messages in there. When you have five minutes free, you can go back and sort through those.
Practice the one-touch rule
Congratulations, you now have an expertly organized inbox! Doesn’t it feel great? Now the challenge is to keep it from getting backed up again. The secret to maintaining a clean inbox forever is this – the “one-touch rule.”
The one-touch rule is simply the idea that you don’t let yourself touch the same item twice – you deal with it right then and there the moment you see the message. Address things right as they come in instead of waiting until the next day or until after lunch. Receive it, deal with it, and clear it out. One touch, and you’re done!
Doing this will help you get tasks done quickly and correctly the first time, instead of letting a bunch of half-finished tasks pile up. It’s not always easy, but if you can discipline yourself to send out quick responses immediately, your inbox will feel much lighter.
If you would like to learn how to become unstoppable like Gigi and find out how to get beyond your limits and fears to really start living with fulfillment, contact her today.