1. Set up a simple and effective email reference system
• Reference Information Folder- Reference information is information that is not required to complete an action; it is information that you keep in case you need it later. Reference information is stored in your reference system—an email reference folder or your My Documents folder. I have decided to use the Microsoft Office Outlook® Folder system to store “reference emails” and save any documents that may be attached to emails that I may need inside of My Doucments.
• Action Folder—this folder is for emails that require me to do something! The key here is that I must do it! At least what I need to do will be easier to find!!!
2. Schedule uninterrupted time to process and organize email
McGhee contends that it is very difficult to complete an activity when you are constantly interrupted. Amen sista! A lot of times, email is what interrupts me from doing something else! Many of the messages I receive require me to make a decision. Often, because I am in the middle of something else, I read the email and because I am too busy to do anything about it right then, it just sits there. Often to be read and reread several times before I take ACTION. Ms. McGhee recommends booking a recurring appointment for an hour a day to process email, and mark that time as “busy.” Busy meaning: don’t answer the phone or take interruptions, and work only on processing your Inbox during that hour. Ok an entire hour of emailing does NOT sound like fun for me. So, I decided two 30 minute sessions, one in the morning and again in the afternoon would work best for me! Tim Ferriss, author of The Four Hour Work Week, also recommends setting aside time to read/respond/and process emails as well. Four Hour Work Week? Sign me up!
3. Process one item at a time, starting at the top
Begin processing the message at the top of your Inbox and only move to the second one after you’ve handled the first. This means file it in the reference or action folder OR DELETE!!! McGhee admits that this can be hard at first, especially when you might have thousands of messages in your Inbox. But as you reduce the number of messages over a few sessions, eventually you’ll get to the point where you can process the 60–100 messages you get every day and regularly get your Inbox down to zero. Whoot! Whoot!
Cleaning out my inbox is like cleaning up my house: I love having things neat and tidy I just don’t love doing the things necessary to keep them that way! Since the email monster brings emails daily and the clutter monster seems to just leave things all over my house, the cleaning process has to become a way of life. The small things that we do daily make all the difference. Erin Casey put it best: “Everyday choices compound over time—for better or for worse. “
2 Timothy 1:7 (New International Version)
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.