I Hate My Inbox!

InboxMy Inbox beats me up day after day after day. It’s like the relentless bully on the school yard. I’m constantly battling the fight or flight syndrome. Sometimes I am determined to wrestle it to empty and other times that seems like such an impossible task that I just want to ignore it.

Knowing I can’t ignore the messages I end up in an uncomfortable limbo of trying to triage the most time sensitive messages leaving the others for a later response. This results in me feeling like there is always work to be done and people waiting on me. An unanswered message means a missed opportunity and I’m disappointing someone. Two things I don’t like.

Here are my current inbox management strategies (for my work inbox, personal inbox follows similar logic):

  • Everything goes my main inbox. I get very little to no junk or spam email because our corporate servers do a great job of filtering that out.
  • Breakdown of emails: 80% of messages require a response, 10% of messages I’m cc’d on and I need to read but don’t require a response (I file these right away), 10% of messages I didn’t really need to get are deleted right away. The dreaded “reply all” with a “thanks” is the main evil in this category.
  • So it’s really about the 80% bucket and my quest to end every work day with that elusive Inbox Zero!

Where I really need improvement is addressing those non time sensitive emails that I would like to respond to but don’t fall into that triage category of “must be dealt with now”. They go into the “I’ll deal with it later” zone and then end up stacking up in my inbox. I feel somewhat relieved when I get this total down to the 20 email range.

What I hate the most is the constant dance of one step forward and two steps back. I deal with 10 emails and then go to a meeting or jump on a phone call and when I return to my inbox there are 20 new messages waiting for me. Yikes! It is a never-ending battle.

How do you handle your inbox? I am so open to suggestions.

BTW: I do like the “just delete it” advice but don’t think that would be the best long-term success strategy for my career!

Published by Wendy Forsythe

I've spent my career working with people and organizations to help them build their brands. We live in a connected world where that line between a personal and professional persona has become nonexistent. Your brand is you 24/7. This blog is about me and my life. Some of it will relate to my passion for the real estate industry and some of it will just be about me living life and exploring my interests. The opinions expressed here are my own personal opinions.

5 thoughts on “I Hate My Inbox!

  1. I actually don’t delete any emails ever, because I use my gmail as my own search engine (and I email myself notes all the time and then go, “wait, what was that? Something with the word bitcoin, that’s all I remember”).

    I don’t use folders (filing takes more time than just answering the damn email), I don’t use stars, I don’t do any of that. On average, I send 112 emails every work day, and receive an embarrassingly large amount more than that, but it sounds a lot like you – I use my inbox as my to do list.

    Everything remains unread that must be responded to or an action must occur. I tried all of the gaming, all of the apps, but the only tried and true method is responding immediately to critical emails and getting them off of my plate, and everything else must be dealt with in that day.

    BUT, the trick I’ve found that forces me to actually take that action sooner is that I respond and set expectations as to when I will take action, then I mark it as unread again until I can deal with it. That way, the pressure is on. If I get above inbox 20, I seriously panic, but I have yet to be at inbox 0, so that’s my threshold.

    ….Off to the internets to ask others to come comment; I’d like to see what others do!!!

    1. Hey Lani

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a great comment. I love your suggestion of responding to a non time sensitive email with a quick got it and will get to your by “x”. I’m going to start doing that. I’m a huge deadline and commitment person. So if I make the commitment with the deadline that’s just what I need to make it happen! I’m off to count how many outgoing emails I send everyday. You got me thinking about that one!

  2. I love it. I could have written this myself. We have the same problems and basically handle the email the same way. Makes me feel good, if I’m doing it like Wendy, I must be doing it right.

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