Managing your email

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As I (Katie) write this post, I have only 2 emails sitting in my email inbox. That’s actually pretty typical for me, even though I receive at least 100 emails every single day. Many days the number is more like 300-400 emails in one day! How do I keep my inbox under control? How is it possible that there are only 2 messages in my inbox? Well, to start with, it’s not entirely true.

I do really only have 2 emails sitting in my actual inbox. Those are the messages that I need to take care of today. I currently have 325 other messages that are each filed in the appropriate folder.

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Stay with me now, I promise this is about more than filing emails! It would be too easy just to file everything away and forget about it. Using folders as procrastination bins (or garbage cans) accomplishes nothing except creating an extra step to move the messages to that new destination.

Why do I get so many emails?

  • Steph and I do the majority of our planning for The Daily Digi through email
  • I get copied on every single comment we receive here on The Daily Digi (even the spam)
  • I get emails relating to projects I’m involved with because of The Daily Digi and The Digi Show podcast
  • There are emails relating to projects I’m working on for my own blog
  • I get emails for every comment I receive on my own blog
  • I take many online classes to keep up on my digi skills and receive emails relating to those
  • I subscribe to many digi store and designer newsletters so I can stay up on what’s happening in digi land (and so I can shop!)
  • My husband and I do a lot of our planning via email and we sent each other appointments for our calendars that come in email form
  • I get emails as a result of my interactions on facebook, pinterest, and flickr. I probably should turn these off, but they help me stay on top of things at those sites
  • I’m on several store mailing lists (Kohl’s, Office Max, Amazon, IKEA, etc.) so I can keep track of new products, sales, and coupons
  • There are emails about education related requirements for our homeschool program and from the administrators of our virtual academy
  • This list doesn’t even include the emails I get from our online virtual school program because they use a separate system called K-Mail. I end up with about 40+ messages a week there
  • I get emails just from living daily life – I make reservations for when we travel and get email confirmation. I work on projects with people in my neighborhood and church via email. Friends send me recipes. etc. etc.
  • When I order something online, I get an email confirmation which helps me keep track of when things are coming
  • I communicate with family members, especially my own family since they all live in other states
  • My kids send me emails – how sweet is that?!

I really can’t fathom what I would do without email! I’m not like the Zen guy (Leo) who rarely uses email, although I do love his advice about email. Email is one of the most useful tools I’ve ever used and it is a BIG part of my life right now. It might seem like I have some emails that I could cut out, but I really feel like they are all useful to me. For me, it’s just important to keep it manageable without letting it rule my life.

Here’s what I do:

  • I unsubscribe to anything that isn’t useful. Don’t get newsletters/coupons etc. unless you are really going to use them. Take a few minutes to use that “unsubscribe” feature at the bottom of email messages
  • Use gmail. The spam filters are powerful so I rarely get junk and it’s easy to set up folder systems. Gmail is an incredibly powerful (and free) program that has a lot of storage. I would be lost without it!
  • I process a lot of my email on my iphone or ipad when I’m sitting and waiting for someone. I can get a lot done in a short amount of time!
  • I try to only handle something once. My goal each day when I check my email is to be able to read and then delete each message, or take the action needed right then. The read + delete part is easy. The action part is harder. If I’m reading something on my phone, I often need to wait until I’m at my computer to have the tools I need to fully respond. However, by clearing through as much as I can at first, I can easily tackle the action items later on.
  • When an email requires further effort on my part (such as a response or actually completing a task) I decide if it needs to be done today or if it can wait. I keep only the very most pressing items in my inbox and then move everything else to folders.
  • I regularly go through most of the folders in my system to be sure I’m keeping up on things. There are some folders (such as travel, computer, house) that rarely need to be reviewed because they simply act as storage for long term projects.

The interesting thing is that I rarely have to make actual to-do lists in my life. Because I do so much through email, it serves as my ongoing project management tool just because of how I keep my folder management system. In fact, I actually send myself emails when I need to add a task to my list!

 

Some other great resources for managing email:

 

If you have any great tips for email management, please share them in the comments. I always learn so much from you!