My 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!