You should also pro-actively reduce the volume of email that arrives in your inbox. You can use Outlook rules to automate this processing as much as possible. For example, you may be able to automatically delete or re-dispatch messages from certain senders or containing certain subject keywords. You may know that email from certain partners only needs to be processed at the end of the month. These are messages that you classified as "important and may require action later." You could manually archive these messages or create a rule to re-direct the emails to an End-of-Month folder. The call to action, in this case, is not an email, but a workflow or a task that you set up to consult the folder at the end of the month. And, just like your inbox, this folder should be emptied when you leave it.
Another email-reducing strategy is to provide guidance to your correspondents. You may be limited in the directions you can give people outside of your company but, inside the company, you can introduce policies to reduce the amount of clutter in your inbox. For example, you could implement a company-wide policy that messages must have the absolute minimum number of recipients. Only people that can act on emails should be To: recipients and only people who absolutely must be informed but do not need to act on an email should be CCed.
Just as much as you need to control your dog, your temper, your appetite or anything else that doesn't behave exactly the way you want it to, you need to control your email inbox, too. Carlos Pardo, CEO of CapApex, an enterprise software consulting company, discusses four warning signs of an out-of-control inbox and 10 tips to gain back control of your emails. An out-of-control inbox has repercussions, so keeping emails under control is crucial to ensuring superior customer service and response time, efficiency with work flow, and avoiding unnecessary stress.
So is your inbox out of control? Heed these four warning signs if you are continually encountering some of these problems:
You are in a never-ending race to catch up with your unread or unanswered emails.
Your colleagues or business partners constantly need to remind you to answer important emails.
You miss deadlines that were clearly stated in a message that is wasting away in your inbox.
You periodically do a "spring cleaning" of old emails that you never even opened and have no idea about their importance.
"The underlying idea in controlling your inbox is having an empty inbox. Easier said than done? Perhaps, but take a good look at your work place. Who are the most productive workers? Your colleagues with messy offices or those who keep a tidy desk? It's possible to gain back control of your email inbox and as a result you will be more productive, efficient and be an overall better employee or business owner," shares Pardo.
There is no one solution for everyone, but these 10 tips will help.