Email is the most useful tool in the modern business age, but most people fail to control it. For many people their work comprises largely of email, and yet they aren’t able to control incoming email.
If you are one of the people who have hundreds perhaps thousands of emails in your inbox then it’s important that you take five minutes to look at the fundamental principles of email. Because if you do not control email, it will control you, causing you to feel stress and ensuring that you work at a fraction of your optimum efficiency.
There are only four types of incoming email:
1. Junk or irrelevant to you
Delete this immediately – it has no place in your inbox.
2. Things of passing interest
For example, a meeting announcement. When you have made a note in your diary it can be deleted.
A thank you note or confirmation that somebody has received something can also be deleted.
Anything that you need to know can be archived in case you need to refer to it again. DO NOT LEAVE IN YOUR INBOX. (That will only cause you to read it time and time again as you look for other things).
4. Call for action
Act upon it or delegate it to somebody else. Some actions cannot be done easily and immediately. You may need to gather information from others before you start it. If possible, create a folder for all of your actions and keep appropriate emails in there until you’ve completed them. When you have finished an action drag it into ARCHIVE.
The trick is to try and get your inbox to ZERO every day.
When you can achieve this, you will have successfully learn how to control incoming email.