Keeping our inboxes organized can be a bit of a nightmare. If you’re like me, your inbox is an extension of your task list, which makes everything a bit harder to keep straight. With the constant flood of messages, it’s hard to have insight into what you need to do, what you’ve responded to, and what’s important.
The key to optimizing an inbox is using the tools at your disposal to make it work for you – and therefore, eliminating some work!
If your inbox is a little out of control, I recommend starting with using these three labels/categories to give you visibility into what’s in store for you.
Use the Pending Reply label to mark emails you’ve responded to and require a response from the other person. This is particularly helpful if you frequently find yourself requesting information or scheduling but forget whom you’re waiting on responses from. Take this a step further and BCC yourself on information requests you initiate and flag your own email in your inbox.
Or “Get it Done” or “Do the Darn Thing”. Whatever reminds you that you need to handle whatever is being requested in the email. Your label will clearly flag work waiting for you so it doesn’t get lost in the flood.
Use filters/rules to automatically apply labels/categories to emails from important people or for projects. Then your eye (and attention!) will be brought to key emails and avoid being buried. Start with immediate team members (don’t forget your assistant!)
A little bit of organization and simple habits will transform your inbox and communication habits. These three labels will keep you accountable, clear, and action-oriented without getting lost in the noise.
If your inbox is really out of control and needs to be cleaned up, I suggest using the steps in my Clean Out Your Inbox guide. You’ll go from buried to beautiful in a few simple steps. Get the free download here.