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Clearing the Inbox

If you’re one of those people whose unread messages spiral ever higher, Inc. magazine offers some valuable tips for people looking to get those inboxes back in line.

In “9 Strategies to Finally Get Your Email Under Control,” writer Wanda Thibodeaux details some excellent ideas for tackling email.

Thibodeaux acknowledges that using folders and labels is the first step most people take. While these tools can help keep things looking cleaner, they don’t reduce the number of emails that need to be addressed. Several of her strategies focus on limiting the incoming clutter.

Her reduction tools include:

Set limits: How many emails in the inbox are replies and clarifications? Decide how many replies on a given topic are appropriate before it is time to pick up the phone. A quick call could head off quite a few email clarifications.

Use the “chat” function more: Sometimes the phone isn’t convenient and “back and forth” is needed. Tools like Skype and Instant Messaging can do the job just as well without adding to email inboxes.

Communicate preferences: Let others know the best way to reach out. Sometimes coworkers email because the door doesn’t feel open for conversation. Other people email instead of using the phone because they feel it is less intrusive. If email isn’t the preferred tool, consider how to communicate a better method for interaction.

Among the other useful suggestions was to make sure email is a priority. Often reading and responding to email is the task that fills in the gaps. One should consider setting a specific time to address emails, creating a system when there is a steady effort to deal with things in a timely manner and to regularly clear out the unneeded messages.

To read all of Thibodeaux’s recommendations, visit Inc. magazine.

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