Have you ever come back from a holiday to an inbox that looks like it is in dire need of a crash diet? Even after you have managed to filter out all the spam, all the invites and all the regular magazines, updates and blogs you subscribe to – you are still left with emails numbering in the hundreds.
It makes you want to go right back to holiday mode, but unfortunately, that is not a viable solution. But I do have 4 effective tips that should see you regain control of your inbox and allow you to do the one thing that email was invented for-communicate with people that you want to communicate with.
1) Filter, filter, filter
Most modern email systems make it easy for you to set up automated filters. These can be on the basis of sender, date, subject or even on the basis of whether attachments are included. Set these up, and your life is that much easier.
For example, have mails sent by colleagues into your ‘Work’ folder, and another one for ‘Family’ and yet another for ‘Friends’. It doesn’t reduce the number of mails, of course – but it does give you the freedom to choose which folder to attack first!
2) Cut through the spam
Filters can be used as a weapon as well – some people even go the extreme step of setting up a filter that effectively deletes all mails that are sent by people not on the contacts list. But at a less extreme level, it is also possible to set up a filter that will trash all mails sent by a particular domain, saving you precious minutes in the process.
3) Vacation Response
Email systems allow you to auto-respond while you are away on leave. At such times, it might be a good idea to let people know that you will take a long time to respond. And ‘a long time’ means about a week after you come back from leave. That way, you can take your time in converting that mountain into a molehill.
4) Delete it all
Sometimes, nothing else works. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, select all your mails and hit delete. You will be surprised how cahartic this is and you will feel free again. . but just check that your mother in law's email is not in there before you hit delete!
This is the electronic version of “If you love someone, set them free…” – because if it is important enough, the sender will get in touch with you again! Fraught with risk – yes, of course. But an empty inbox is a surefire stress-buster, and that has its own rewards!