How to Get Control of Your Email Inbox

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Treat Your Inbox Right

Treating your inbox right entails a couple of different things. To start, properly filter your bacn -- the legitimate emails like newsletters and social media alerts that you have subscribed to and may be interested in, but which should not interrupt your day. It's best to make sure these messages never set foot in your inbox by filtering them out. At minimum, be sure to process these messages in bulk so they don't waste your time or linger in your inbox.

Secondly, don't always email. Be vigilant about deciding which email threads are productive and which are not. Sometimes a phone conversation might be better, some recipients should be removed from a thread, or a new thread is needed altogether.

Third, don't use your inbox as an archive. It's the equivalent of stuffing your snail mail back into your mailbox after reading it and is terrible for your productivity. Instead, use your email's search function to find messages and create folders for categories you will want to reference in the future.

Email has been likened to zombies: The more you delete (or kill), the more come to get you. Just about every professional today struggles to stay on top of email. According to a McKinsey study, U.S. employees spend 28 percent of their workweek on email, and research from the University of California, Irvine indicates that email overload can elevate stress levels and reduce focus. Add in the chaos of the modern inbox and important messages can easily get lost in the shuffle -- only 6 to 7 percent of emails actually receive a response.

Email is an integral part of working, but for far too many workers, it hurts rather than helps their productivity. They spend so much time communicating that it is difficult to get into a flow and get actual work done. Keeping email overload at bay and optimizing your inbox requires honing specific skills and developing a strategy so you control your email, rather than letting it control you.

In the following slideshow, SaneBox has identified six tips for overcoming email overload, achieving inbox zero, and boosting your productivity.


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