Office workers today send or receive an average of 120 emails a day, according to the Radicati Group. That’s one every four minutes. Is it any wonder productivity lowers as individuals manage bulging inboxes, spending time searching for that “one email” they know they just had a few days ago?
When email made its appearance, it did not come with an owner’s manual explaining how or when to use it. As a result, some of the habits formed using this amazing tool have been anti-productive ones, including using the inbox as a Virtual To-Do List.
Many emails left in inboxes represent a future task, action or appointment. Follow these three steps in identifying and relocating those emails that can and should be moved elsewhere.
1. Detect those to be evicted
Scan your inbox, looking for emails that have been left there because they represent a future task or action. Examples might include:
- Those containing agendas or reference items for future meetings
- Travel confirmations
- Emails representing future follow-up
2. Declare Moving Day
Start the move. Decide where emails can be relocated.
- An email containing an agenda for a future board meeting can easily be moved to the date/time of the meeting (just click and drag from the inbox to the calendar). On the day of the meeting these documents will now be easily accessed.
- Tavel confirmations should be moved to the day of travel. On departure day they will be easy to review, and print if necessary.
- For those emails representing future tasks, drag the email to your Task feature in Outlook or Lotus Notes. Take time to assign a start date and include any other details pertaining to the task.
Note: Right-clicking on an email prior to dragging allows for any attachments to go with the email. Learn more by watching this video.
3. Bid farewell
After dragging emails to where they will be used later, it’s important to return to the inbox to delete the original email. Have full confidence these important emails are now residing safely in their new home and are no longer needed in the inbox.
Begin setting aside 15 minutes each day to start the relocation process. Using a timer (chances are your cell phone has one) will help you keep your focus and be able to say no to interruptions. When the time is up, attention can be turned back to other projects competing for your attention.
Knowing emails will no longer get buried or overlooked will go a long ways in improving personal peace of mind not to mention productivity.
© 2014 American City Business Journals, Inc.