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Get through e-mail faster by protecting your in-box

Article posted on Tuesday, November, 3rd, 2015 at 11:28 PM

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You’re about to start a big project, but first you want to give e-mail a quick check. One hour later, you close e-mail and wonder where the time went. Your whole schedule’s thrown off. You vow to not let that happen again.


Usually the problem is your e-mail in-box. You want to get it under control, with a few minutes answering e-mail here, and a few minutes sending and forwarding there. If the types of e-mails in your in-box don’t change and the way you handle them doesn’t either, then it’s likely more time will disappear from your schedule.


There are two things you can do:

1) Use the two-minute rule when checking e-mail.

– If you can act on the e-mail you opened in two minutes or less, do it then. Maybe it’s a quick reply or info you need to forward or print out. This will save you time from re-opening and re-reading the e-mail at another time.

– If an e-mail will take more than two minutes, then you need to have scheduled time to “work on” e-mail.


2) Protect your in-box. Route e-mails away from your in-box by:

–         Unsubscribing from e-publications and other mailing lists that you are not interested in. If you simply “delete” and do not unsubscribe, you are still spending time on these. For example, if you receive 20 unwanted e-mails a month, that equals 240 e-mail “deletes” a year. It is worth it to take the time and get off the lists!

–         Creating filters or “rules” that will automatically route e-mails from the publications or companies you choose into an e-mail folder you’ve created, or even the Trash folder. This means they won’t even appear in your in-box, which is perfect for non-urgent, non-essential e-mails.

–         Setting up e-mail folders for categories of e-mails you need to keep. Name them for specific projects, clients, family members or organizations you are involved with.

–         Separating work and personal e-mail. This will help you stay focused when working on either one or the other.

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