An Unorganized Person's Guide to Email Organization Methods

Email is essential in many people's day-to-day lives. But the sheer volume that some receive can become stressful and upsetting. However, there are steps you can take toward organizing your email.

An Unorganized Person's Guide to Email Organization Methods

It may feel like email consumes too much of your valuable time - and you'd be right. It's not uncommon for someone to check their email 11 times per hour daily.

One of the most significant tenants of Marie Kondo's organization methods is to figure out if an item "sparks joy." Marie Kondo says you should keep useful things and objects that make you happy.

Email is essential in many people's day-to-day lives. But the sheer volume that some receive can become stressful and upsetting. However, there are steps you can take toward organizing your email.

Just because you have to contend with various emails doesn't mean you have to live with poor email management. Below are some email organization methods to keep your inbox tidy.

1. Take Immediate Action

One thing that can help you maintain good email management is to take speedy action. If you're checking your email and you see something new in your inbox, it's best to tend to it immediately.

If you get an email requiring a response, reply as quickly - preferably as soon as it reaches your inbox. A large part of email organization is to have as little in your inbox as possible.

Another reason you should handle your email quickly is that it reduces stress. The less time an email sits in your inbox, the less time you waste stressing.

2. Turn Off Your Email Notifications

Checking your email can become addictive. You're operating on a variable interval reinforcement schedule when you constantly check your email.

A variable interval reinforcement is when a particular behavior or action nets you a reward. In this case, you may check your email constantly, but you won't always receive one.

You should switch off your email notifications because checking them takes time from other tasks. It can take over 23 minutes to focus after a distraction. You could spend that 23 minutes on more productive tasks.

3. Adhere to the One-Minute Rule

A large part of organizing your email is expediency. The "one-minute rule" is no exception, and it boils down to; taking care of any emails you can handle in one minute or less.

Here are a few things you can expect to handle in a minute or less:

  • Email replies
  • Action requests within an email
  • Follow-up tasks regarding phone calls and client meetings
  • Replies to voicemail messages or other actions inside emails
  • Any quick, speedy action you may think of during the day

The point of the one-minute rule is to help keep you on track. Taking care of every email or task throughout the day can become tedious and stressful. You also need to understand that every email isn't significant.

Many notifications in your inbox may be spam or social media notifications. You may not need to read or respond to various emails immediately.

4. Schedule A Time to Clean Your Inbox

One of the best ways to solve a problem is to prevent it from happening. Incidentally, one of the best email organization methods is regularly cleaning your inbox.

You probably receive various emails per day. While cleaning your inbox does help with email organization, it's also best to choose a specific time. For example, you can clear your inbox every day at 4:30 PM.

Daily cleaning is an excellent way to keep your inbox from becoming cluttered. Scheduling a time will help you keep to the task of deleting emails. You can set a calendar reminder, so you remember to clear your inbox.

5. Make Folders, Labels, and Categories

Sorting emails depends on the individual. The way you create categories depends on your needs and preferences. You must figure out what works best for you.

For example, you can sort your work email into separate categories like "company announcements" and "team meetings." Others may take to sorting emails into parent categories and subcategories.

You can create these categories by making labels. In Gmail, you can create a label by going to the "categories" tab on the left and choosing the "manage labels" option.

Labels serve as email folders that allow you to sort your messages neatly. Gmail allows you to choose different colors for your email folders to organize your email via color coordination.

6. Try Email Filtering

Another way you can try sorting emails is to filter them. Email filters allow you to view messages that meet specific criteria.

You can make a filter that sorts emails by whether they have attachments or if you've read them already. Filters make it easier to delete or place notifications into email folders.

If you want to set up filters in Gmail, click the down arrow on the right side of your search box. Next, you can input your search criteria inside the pop-up box to choose the kind of messages you want to organize.

Your final step is to click "create filter with this search" on the bottom right. From there, you can choose what you want to do with your selected emails.

7. Unsubscribe from Unnecessary Emails

Many people don't realize they inadvertently sign up for promotional emails when they visit various websites. Many sites preselect the option to receive these messages for you.

Awareness is a helpful organizational method to keep in mind. Be careful of what you're signing up for, and make sure you only subscribe to emails you want.

If you find yourself constantly deleting and archiving the same message repeatedly, you may want to unsubscribe from these messages.

8. Use the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule or Pareto Principle states that over 80% of results (outputs) come from 20% of causes (inputs) for any event. The 80/20 rule helps identify what inputs are the most productive.

When used regarding email organization, the 80/20 rule can help you focus on the messages that matter most. Approximately 20% of your emails will contain important content, which are the ones that should hold your focus.

Emails from clients, messages from work, and necessary subscriptions are most important. These emails are what require your speedy correspondence.

Consider using the one-minute rule to deal with these messages. You can deal with the remaining 80% of messages at your leisure.

9. Apply the Touch it Once Principle

The "touch-it-once" principle means making a quick decision regarding your emails. Much of email management involves quickly and concisely dealing with your received messages.

"Touch-it-once" means to look at the message once, take action regarding the message, close it, and move to your next task. The touch-it-once method of email organization sounds easy but can be challenging.

Emails tend to linger in our minds and distract us from other things. If you can apply the touch-it-once method, you can keep organized and productive regardless of email volume.

10. Create Default Replies

Replying to the same message can become tedious and take time out of your day. If you're giving the same response to various emails, creating a default for that kind of message might make sense.

You can create categorized responses depending on what messages you receive. Prewritten responses can help you reply to emails faster and promptly remove notifications from your inbox.

11. Keep Spam From Cluttering Your Inbox

Everybody has to deal with spam mail. You likely have an email folder with messages about hair growth formulas and illicit notifications. Sometimes, spam mail finds its way into your inbox folder.

One way to combat spam is to block it from reaching your account. Mailstrom has a one-click block function that can help keep your inbox (and spam folder) free of notifications you don't want.

Mailstrom's spam blocker requires you to select an email from the sender you no longer want to send you messages. Next, click the block button, and you'll stop seeing notifications from that sender.

12. Flag Emails That Need Additional Attention

Sometimes the one-minute rule doesn't work. Some emails require a well-thought-out response and cannot be settled in a minute or less.

If you don't have time for an important notification, flag it and return when ready. Once you flag these important emails, you can also organize them, so they appear near the top of your inbox.

Marking your flagged messages unread is also practical; this action can help denote the email as urgent. Setting up a schedule for flagging emails can help you get through them in a fast, orderly manner.

13. Put Group Emails in a Non Critical Email Folder

Group emails are notifications that a single sender dispatches to many people. However, group emails aren't usually too important. It's not uncommon for a group email to contain a simple, non-vital announcement.

You can expect group notifications to be non-time critical, so it might help to sort these outside your primary email folder. However, if you can read and delete these emails quickly, feel free to do so.

Use the Best Organization Methods for Your Inbox

Many inbox organization methods involve expediency and prioritization. Properly sorting emails means you need to know what messages are most important.

Employing several email folders to categorize your notifications is also helpful. However, the best email organization method you can use is Mailstrom.

Mailstrom offers various organization methods to keep your inbox tidy. If you'd like to know more about email efficiency, then contact us here for more information.