TIME MANAGEMENT: This week I have suggestions for being in charge of your email inbox.

I planned to put this up yesterday, but we had an electrical outage for most of the day, and I never got to it. So, a day late, here are my tips:

First thing you need to be able to do is know some tricks for using your email program. You should make folders or boxes (depending on your program’s terminology) and get your program to automatically filter incoming emails into those folders/boxes. If you don’t know how, I suggest you search in your browser for your particular program and follow those directions. For example, I made folders for different groups: for family members and friends, for news articles, and one for personal emails I plan to answer another day. I also make sub-folders for “keep” or things like people’s names, business names, etc. This leaves me with just a handful of emails in my main inbox. I quickly get rid of spam and other things I sometimes look at but don’t want to bother with right then, knowing they will show up over and over again, such as catalogs and newsletters with book sales. After doing those two steps, I am left with just a few things to handle, and that usually won’t take long. Then I go to each group and am able to read the emails in the order they came in and answer the ones I want to easily by simply hitting reply (as opposed to getting digests where you have to go through hoops to answer just one email). I also put the very few emails I want to keep for reference in subfolders in their categories. Next I check on other folders to find new emails and do whatever I want with them.

My goal is to have only a few left in my main inbox and none in my folders when I go to bed (zero would be even better, but some things just have to be handled later). And all my groups caught up, and one or two personal emails (I have a separate folder for “personal emails”) answered each day. Not saying I always reach that goal, but it helps more than not having any plan at all.

Anyone have other tips?

 Thursday Time Management Tip: Have a pile of paper needing attention? Every morning, pick one piece of it (no need to look through the pile, just grab something) and determine to deal with it that day.

Some papers will need a few days to resolve an issue—phone calls, emails, etc. Keep working on that paper until you are done. The next day after that, pick another one, and go! To get to the bottom of the pile, you have to deal with every paper that comes in every day. Best to do this as soon as you get the mail. Once in a great while, you will need to keep one for a period of time. Have a separate pile for those, and put the date it needs to be handled on your calendar. I hope this is helpful!