There are over 32 million small businesses in the United States. With so much competition in virtually every industry, it's crucial to ensure your company runs efficiently. One of the most important steps to take is email organization.
Happen to find yourself dealing with too many emails regularly? There are simple ways to resolve a cluttered inbox. Let's dive in.
Signs You Should Take Action
It can be difficult to know how much clutter is too much. While the radical answer would be "any clutter at all," there's nothing wrong with occasionally having a few outstanding messages in your inbox. However, if you find yourself spending too much time looking for specific messages, this is a sign you should make a change.
The same can be said about missing important emails that need your attention. Finally, you'll know it's time to clean things up if you experience a feeling of anxiety or dread when accessing your email inbox.
Causes of Too Many Emails
There are many reasons why people have too many emails to manage. Understanding these will help keep your inbox under control. Listed below are some of the most notable.
Many people make the mistake of subscribing to newsletters they don't intend to read. They often do this to gain access to a website, start a free trial, etc.
Regardless of why it occurs, this can create hundreds or even thousands of unnecessary emails in your inbox. Most companies send newsletters each week, but certain ones send daily messages.
Left unchecked, a situation like this can quickly get out of control. To make matters worse, certain websites are notoriously difficult to unsubscribe from.
Although they might have an "unsubscribe" link in their messages, it may not work appropriately. Similarly, it may direct you to a page on their site that doesn't load. In the future, it's best to subscribe only to newsletters that provide useful information.
Irrelevant Conversation Inclusions
It's not uncommon in business settings to be included in an email chain. This helps provide insight into important conversations.
For instance, a hiring manager might include an HR representative in an email chain where they communicate with a new hire. However, problems can arise when people include you in unnecessary conversations. This is especially true when these conversations consist of large groups.
Take a moment to imagine how it would affect your inbox to be part of a 50-person email chain. Unless this information objectively needs your attention, it will only serve to waste your time.
Poor Team Communication Guidelines
Poor communication guidelines can create unnecessary inbox congestion. To clarify, there may be people at your organization who send emails instead of researching information on their own.
There should be policies in place that dictate when people communicate through email. This will go a long way toward minimizing unnecessary messages and keeping your inbox organized.
You Don't Use Automatic Replies
It's essential to use automatic replies when you won't have access to your work email account. The issue here is that people won't always know you're unable to reply if they don't get a response.
They may assume you haven't seen the message yet. It's not uncommon for people to follow up multiple times throughout the day while waiting for a response.
If this occurs with multiple senders, you'll have a substantial number of unnecessary emails in your inbox. This problem becomes exacerbated the longer you go without using automatic replies.
To clarify, let's assume you took a week off work but didn't turn on your automatic reply setting. You might come back to find hundreds of work-related emails. Not only will these be inconvenient to sift through, but this situation can also cause friction between you and your coworkers.
You Send Too Many Emails
In some cases, sending a large number of emails regularly is unavoidable. Some people, though, make the mistake of unnecessarily sending emails.
Similar to how your coworkers should abide by the communication policy, you should always consider if an email is worth sending. If you can come up with a reasonable alternative, it's often best to leverage that instead. This can be difficult for many people at first, but it's a habit worth developing.
Drawbacks of Too Many Emails
People are often unaware of the consequences a cluttered inbox can have. These range from minor to substantial and should be prevented at all costs. Let's explore them.
The more emails you have to look through, the more time you'll waste. Not only can this delay finding what you're looking for, but you could also run into issues with your other responsibilities.
If you're constantly looking for a certain attachment, email chain, etc., you'll have less time to handle your obligations after you find it. This could create a situation where you rush to complete other tasks and inadvertently make mistakes. By keeping your inbox managed, you'll minimize the time you spend searching for information.
It's not uncommon for opportunities to present themselves via email. One of the most common is having potential clients reach out to your email address. This could be something as simple as an inquiry, or it could be a business proposition.
If your inbox is disorganized, you might not see this message until hours or days have passed. In this amount of time, they may have moved on to a competitor instead.
The opportunities you miss can sometimes be substantial, as well. A common scenario could involve an employee receiving an email from a superior asking for their involvement in a special project.
If they never see the message, their superior might assume they aren't interested or don't feel capable of handling the task. They will then give this opportunity to someone else.
Inbox clutter can make it impossible to stay as organized as you should. This is especially true if you have multiple ongoing projects.
In many industries, it's not uncommon for project timelines to shorten. You may find that a deadline has moved up substantially on short notice.
Overlooking emails with this information could cause you to miss the deadline. This often comes with numerous consequences, and it could adversely affect your employment.
Poor Customer Satisfaction
Customers often reach out via email to resolve problems. They may not have received their product yet, the service they use could be malfunctioning, etc. If they don't get a timely response, they could become frustrated and discontinue working with your brand.
They might also leave a negative review about their experience. If this happens enough times, it could deter potential customers from choosing your company. Instead, it's best to keep your inbox as organized as possible so you can address customer concerns when they arise.
Finally, inbox clutter will lead to poor communication. Put simply, having unnecessary messages in your inbox could prevent you from responding promptly.
If you make coworkers wait hours for a reply, it could negatively impact their responsibilities. Let's consider a situation where someone within a company emails a superior about the current state of a project.
If they aren't able to move forward without a reply, they'll likely be unproductive until the other person reads the message. This could have a cascading effect on other employees, leading to substantial issues within a single department.
Cutting the Clutter
There are various ways you can eliminate inbox clutter. The good news is that these are much simpler than most people anticipate. Let's take a closer look.
Check Emails at Certain Intervals
Checking emails at certain intervals throughout the day or week can help substantially. However, you must remain consistent with this method.
It's no secret that it only takes a few days for an email inbox to get out of control. So, it's in your best interest to choose intervals where you're always available.
Many people clear out their inboxes as soon as they get to work, on their lunch breaks, etc. Even a few minutes each day goes a long way toward managing clutter.
Use Professional Software
Sometimes, people find themselves in situations that seem impossible to recover from. They might have hundreds or even thousands of unread emails in their inbox.
It's impractical to handle these manually, and you might not even have the time to do so. Using professional software can allow you to seamlessly clean up emails.
To clarify, applications like these let you utilize mass email deletion. You can even specify certain senders and delete only emails from those addresses. They can also help you pinpoint messages that need your attention.
It's worth noting that using the right software can help you deal with spam emails. When searching for software to use, consider its past reputation. This will provide valuable insight into the results you'll get.
You should also consider how intuitive the software is to use. No matter its efficacy, you won't get the results you need if it's difficult to implement.
One of the best ways to organize your inbox is by using folders and labels. You can create separate folders for any type of category, such as different clients, projects, etc.
Not only will this make your inbox easier to navigate, but you'll also have an easier time finding relevant information. In most cases, it will substantially improve your workflow.
Create Separate Email Accounts
It's always recommended to create separate email accounts for different obligations. For instance, someone might have different accounts for work, school, side projects, and personal use.
Consolidating this information in one location can easily become overwhelming. The last thing you want is to risk missing potential opportunities due to inbox clutter. Although you will be swapping seamlessly between email accounts, you should use a unique password for each.
Hackers that procure password information often attempt to use these passwords on multiple accounts someone owns. If you have trouble remembering the different passwords you use, consider using a password manager.
This is an application that stores and encrypts a list of passwords. It can only be accessed with a master password.
Archive Irrelevant Emails
People avoid deleting emails out of fear they will need to access this information in the future. Unfortunately, this only contributes to inbox clutter.
Instead, you should archive irrelevant emails so they're out of the way but still accessible. Examples include emails from past work projects, important conversations that are no longer relevant, etc.
Use an Inbox Zero Policy
As the name implies, an inbox zero policy involves keeping your email account's "unread messages" value at zero.
When you strive for this number, you'll naturally eliminate the clutter in your inbox. It's also recommended to take the appropriate action for the emails you read instead of just opening them.
This could include deleting, archiving, etc. Although inbox zero might seem unattainable at first, it's well within reach. To put this into perspective, let's assume you have 1,000 unopened emails.
Let's also assume that you get approximately 50 new emails per day. If you go through 100 emails per day, you'll eventually get your unread email value to zero. Just be sure to remain vigilant once you do so.
Keep Your Inbox Organized
Stay on top of email organization so you can avoid dealing with having too many emails at once. This will go a long way when it comes to keeping your company efficient and maximizing customer satisfaction. It's also great for your mental health.
Get in touch with a representative at Mailstrom to see how we can help. We have the tools and resources to get you on the right track.