Ask Squared Away

I can't seem to keep up with the flood of emails in my inbox every day. Any suggestions?

Establish one or two set times each day for checking email. Make these sessions long enough to get through your inbox and at times when you can actually read and respond to messages. Avoid being distracted by email at other times: turn it off or, at least, turn off the chime that indicates you have a new message and minimize your email software. Don't waste time skimming (and reskimming) and not responding.

 Create an email filing system. Include folders for topics or projects on which you frequently receive messages, as well as a 'To Do' folder and a 'Waiting to Hear Back' folder.

 Use your email sessions wisely: try to empty your inbox at each session. Look at each message. If you have only a short time, either delete the message or move it to your To Do folder for later action. When time permits, take any necessary action promptly. If you're waiting for a response, move the message you sent to your Waiting to Hear Back folder.

 Review the contents of your To Do and Waiting to Hear Back folders regularly. Take action and follow up as necessary. When appropriate, delete or move items from these two folders to your other email topic folders.

 Try to break the habit of printing email messages. Think of your email filing system as an extension of your paper filing system. Look there when you are reviewing your material on a particular project, person, or topic.

 If you are on email distribution lists that are not of interest to you, remove yourself from them. Let your friends know if you prefer not to receive jokes and quotes forwarded from them. Consider anti-spam software if your inbox seems to fill up with more junk than not.




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