A virtual organizing session Monday with one of my favorite entrepreneur clients, Lennie Rose, started with a confession. She told me she was “flagging herself to death.”
As we scrolled together through her email inbox, I saw the hefty evidence behind her gloomy statement. We found a brighter story when we dug a little deeper.
Email Inbox Assessment
Lennie was not alone in storing loads of other items in her inbox than just newly received mail. Items (some opened, others not) requiring action and candidates for future reference were the two most popular kind.
There was also a pattern of half processed email. You know, where you open it…think, ugh, I don’t want to deal with this right now…and then move onto the next email?
There were lots of unwanted emails. Subscriptions to newsletters she didn’t read. Updates from social media sites galore. And, of course, unsolicited junk mail.
And then there were the flags. Lots of them. Some of them indicating tasks to complete. While most identifying email gold–the thoughtful notes from friends and fans, the interesting person/blog/product she’ll want to find when the time is right.
Healthier Email Habits
The first inbox habit she decided to institute was to stop using the inbox to store reference items. (Many folks go further and decide action items go elsewhere, too.) The process of moving things to reference was made easier since she uses X1 to find things.
The second habit was to unsubscribe to things no longer valuable, to add repeat junk offenders to her blocked email list, and to permanently delete those she’s too exhausted to unsubscribe from but doesn’t want to ever see again. (Pressing shift while hitting delete in Outlook will do this automatically.)
The third habit was to process email all the way to the end. That meant if she opened it, then she needed to follow through all the way to the end…moving it to a reference folder, deleting it (yes, like most people, there were many emails clouding the inbox that simply needed to be deleted), scheduling it on her calendar, or leaving it in the inbox to indicate action needed.
What email habits do you want to shed? Or which are the ones you want to embrace?