Laina Turner, Author
L.C. Turner, Author

how to manage your emails

Do you stress over how to manage your emails?

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I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets way too many emails in the course of a day. Hour. Minute. All of which seem to want something from me.

I feel I only read/act on 1 out of every 10 and continuously am checking my phone/laptop to see if anything new came in. I don’t feel I can ever unplug because the consequences of what I would be walking back into would drive me over the edge.

how to manage your emails

I often think of a world where email didn’t overtake my life and I had some sort of management system in place to deal with it.

However, it seems like a utopia. A land of unicorns and rainbows. Meaning I’m sure it doesn’t exist but it’s sure nice to think about.

Then I think about the millions of other people out there who seem to be able to manage their email and maybe it’s something I should be able to do too. As I was pondering this dilemma this weekend I remembered a book I got a long time ago called Getting Things Done by David Allen.

I, of course, hadn’t read it because at the time I received the book I didn’t have time to sit down and read about how I needed to get organized. Which we all know is a bad excuse. You sometimes need to stop and take a step back so you can see all you need to do and come up with a plan.

So I decided to do just that. I took some time to actually read the book and then checked out his website where he had a page called the 5 simple steps to apply order to chaos.

And chaos is exactly how I feel about my inbox and my to-do list.

The 5 steps aren’t revolutionary. They’re practical and make total sense.

  1. Capture – to me that means write that shit down. It’s too easy to try and keep it in my head or even worse I don’t write it down because I’m afraid of how scary it will look. But keeping it in my head just stresses me out and of course, I’m going to forget something.
  2. Clarify – be specific. I can put on my to-do list eat healthy but what does that actually mean. I need to break it down into what are actionable steps.
  3. Organize – create a system. How many of you are like me and just leave emails languishing in your inbox until ‘you get to them.’ Well then those to do’s get so buried I forget they are even there and the ball gets dropped, and I get overwhelmed…etc. Having a system where the tasks are either done, delegated or filed for later will help keep that inbox clean. One of the pieces of advice was if a task only took 2 minutes or so then do it immediately and get it off your plate. I am guilty as charged for not doing that one. I put a lot off because I don’t think I have time and then that 2 minute’s task turns into 2 weeks of thinking about it or forgetting which makes it even worse.
  4. Reflect – and review your to-do list daily/weekly/monthly. It’s not like you make one to do list and you’re done. It’s a never-ending process. I used to try and make time Sunday evenings to look at my week and get things together. I need to get back on that habit.
  5. Engage – in the words of Nike. Just Do It. I admit I sometimes stress more over the anticipation of having to do something than the actual act of doing it. I need to do the stuff I don’t want to do and stop procrastinating and getting even more backed up.

I spent time this week deleting old emails and organizing the ones I have AND completing many 2-minute tasks which gave me a HUGE sense of relief.

Now I do say when I wake up in the morning and see how many things have come through in the night it’s very hard to not fall back into my old ways, but I know how easy it can spiral out of control and will then take me that much longer to clean up again.

Wish me luck that I can stick to it!

What are your email organization tricks?

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