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Improving Productivity with Email Optimization

Organizing Your Email Inbox

You know that little red number on the side of your email inbox, the one that tells you how many unread messages you have? No judgment, but as someone who cares for your wellbeing, I’d say you might have a problem if that’s a four-digit number.

Five digits? Ok honey it’s time for an intervention.

Let’s just set some ground rules here. Your inbox should be a source of: 1: important correspondence, 2: useful information, 3: joy. It should not be a gross and scary tangle of meaninglessness and confusion that you dread visiting.

Here are eight things I do to keep my inbox sparkling. (These tips are specific to Gmail, but many email programs have similar features)

Make Use of the “Important” Flag

In Gmail settings, I set my inbox to show me emails marked “important” first, and I create an “important” flag for all of my clients’ addresses. That way I can be sure I see their emails first, and I don’t miss anything.

Take a “Snooze”

When you open an email in Gmail, there is an amazing dashboard of tools to play with. One of them has an icon that looks like a clock, and it’s the Snooze function. If you get an email that is important, but doesn’t need to be addressed right away (think RSVP requests, things with longer deadlines), it can be useful to snooze it. That way, your inbox will show you the email at the top of the list again when it’s relevant.

Use Gmail’s Task Function

Another slept-on tool from Gmail is the task function (that little icon with the check mark next to “Snooze”). It will let you turn an email into a part of your To-do list, complete with a reminder.

Create Folders/Labels

I know we all have different spiritual backgrounds, but I believe inbox labels will save us all. I have a separate label (Gmail calls folders “labels”) for each of my clients. You can choose to send emails from certain addresses directly to their label and have them bypass your inbox, or, you can go through your inbox each day and manually sort incoming emails into their labels. Once you have things sorted, you can easily access all the emails you need in a specific category.

Keep Your Newsletters, Forums and Promotional Emails Out of Sight

Again, labels. There is a ton of good content out there, but no one needs the stress of seeing 60 newsletters in their inbox every morning. For things that you want to see only voluntarily, send them directly to a label.

Create Templates

Do you write a heck of a lot of really similar emails? In your Gmail settings, enable templates. You can create form emails and use them again and again with minor tweaks.

Schedule Your Sends

Say it’s 2 a.m. and you want to be productive, but don’t want to be sending emails to your clients or boss at odd hours. Or maybe you want to send a birthday email, but you’re afraid you’ll forget on the day of. Gmail allows you to schedule when your emails will send. You get to do whatever you want whenever you want, and your emails still go to their destinations at appropriate times.

Unsubscribe As You Go

If you are going through your emails from a particular day, and you come across one that you do NOT need (An artisanal pet food blog? Event calendar for a city where you no longer live?) then take the simple step of unsubscribing right then and there. An inbox full of junk can be overwhelming, but this can become a practice. If you want some real satisfaction, click the “Filter messages like this” option, and delete away.

My commitment to you is to provide value in exchange for your time and engagement. If there is a topic of interest, please do not hesitate to reach out! Thank you for stopping by. Hope you come back Wednesday, March 10 to read our guest blog by Courtney Boland…

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