Friends and acquaintances of mine always say they are struggling to process their emails and think I spend ages in my inbox to get it to Zero. Most people would rather not deal with their emails than find an efficient way of going through their inbox daily. They imagine it to be a complex process to keep your inbox neat, but this is not so. To learn about inbox zero, check out my previous blog post. Today I want to tell you how to process your incoming emails quickly and efficiently.
I check my emails once a day, I look at each email once and then decide the following: Does it need a reply? Do I need to refer to it again? Am I waiting for action from another person or confirmation of dates and or figures before I can reply? Can I delete the email?
I put all emails that need a response in the Action This Day folder to be tackled sometime the same day.
All emails that I might need to refer to again go in the reference folder so that I can refer back at any time.
Emails that are waiting for a response from a third party before I can reply to the sender go in the Waiting For folder.
All other emails get deleted. These could be round robins, newsletters, information on events that I attended or just short messages from friends that tell nothing of substance.
Why do I only have one reference folder rather than individual folders for each person I write to and each project that I am involved in? There is a simple answer. One it takes too long to sort each email into a separate folder and two, you don’t need to as search functions have become so good in most email programs.
Some people install filters so that emails get sent straight to a designated folder such as newsletters to the newsletter folder or letters from your parents to the parents’ folder, rather than your inbox. I don’t do that because it means that emails are out of sight and out of mind.
It takes me about 5-10 minutes each day to go through my inbox. So don’t tell me you don’t have time to do the same, you do! Obviously answering emails takes a bit longer, but that depends on how many I need to respond to.
Been on Instagram? Watched YouTube? Following your favourite productivity guru or minimalist on some social media channel or other? Find it all looks so perfect and you are about to give up on your life organising journey? Because how can you possibly compete with Don who does 5 hours of exercise, eats healthy with every meal and has a perfectly clutter-free kitchen. Please, don’t give up, hang on in there! Things aren’t perfect for those bloggers and YouTubers, even if they seem so to the outsider. They are humans just like the rest of us.
Think about it anyone who has a social media account, blog or YouTube channel where they talk about a specific topic will want to present themselves in a good light. A wardrobe organiser on Instagram won’t show you her unsorted socks or a person giving study tips won’t talk about not being in a study mood. I follow a young woman named Ruby on YouTube and in her videos she seems to be forever studying and reading more books a week than most people do in a year, but I am sure she has days where she doesn’t feel like leaving her bed and binge watches Netflix. Of course, I don’t know.
These people aren’t perfect, they will have off days just like the rest of us. But that’s not the point of their online presence. They want to present themselves in a favourable light, who wants to show their insecurities and weaknesses to the outside world?
To prove my point, I will show you the current state of my flat. (Picture below). I have builders in and below you can see my living room. Not something I would put on Instagram or promote on my blog, but yes, I am human. I am not some robot that is clean and organised 24/7.
So don’t feel bad if your house isn’t perfect nobody’s is, whatever you think. Don’t compare yourself to others, you are not them. Your life and circumstances are different. Your level of tidiness is what is right for you, what you can realistically achieve and not what is right for a YouTube presenter. I for one have no husband and no kids; my aims and standards will be different to those of a mum with 10 kids or a disabled person unable to walk.