6 Steps to Help You Move Out of Your Inbox

Woman in a small officeWhen did it happen? How did it happen? It was all so subtle. It started with a small portion of your day visiting your inbox. Your inbox was new and exciting and, with anything fresh, electrifying, and shimmering, it held mind-blowing magnetism!

Next, you brought your morning cup of Joe. Your warm, fuzzy pajamas and bunny slippers made you feel right at home. How much fun was it was to browse through emails sipping on a hot cup of java at the start of your day.

You sensed a bit of a problem when you began taking meals to your inbox. The snacks were not a problem but the three course meals left quite the mess – not to mention the crumbs stuck in your keyboard that make your “s” key stutter.

Fast forward. It’s 3 pm and you still haven’t showered. About the time you get all your emails picked up and put away, the send/receive button creates another flurry. You have piles everywhere. Your actionable items hang haphazardly from your task bar. Appointments are strewn across your calendar. Your priorities? They’re in here somewhere!

You have officially moved into your inbox and it is controlling every movement and action of your day. It’s consuming your time and energy and preventing you from getting to the REAL work of achieving your goals.

The following list summarizes the steps needed to move out of your inbox.*

1. Schedule times to visit your inbox. Your mom and dad don’t like you stopping by their house unannounced and spending the day. They have things to do – and so do you! Don’t randomly stop by your inbox with the intent of spending the day there either. Schedule 2-3 times a day to visit your inbox and respond to emails as needed.

2. Organize email newsletters. E-newsletters are distracting. They create delays in moving quickly through your inbox. Unsubscribe from email newsletters that no longer contribute to your goals. However, if there is a “must keep” subscription, set up a “Reading” folder and a rule for newsletters. A rule sends the newsletter directly to the “Reading” folder where you can read to your heart’s content at a time designated for reading.

3. Close your inbox after responding to emails. This helps control your send/receive addiction when you’re bored or afraid you’re missing out on something.

4. Use a timer. Your inbox was not designed for permanent residency. At the pre-determined time, log into your inbox, set your timer, and when the bell rings, pack your bags and go! “No dilly dallying”, as my mother would say.

5. Do not visit your inbox – even temporarily – outside of the predetermined times. Without a doubt, your inbox is quite comfortable. So cozy in fact, you’ve been seen “stopping by” your inbox during meetings, while waiting in line, or throughout dinner with family and friends. Don’t do that anymore. It’s actually quite rude and disrespectful to those you’re with.

6. Eliminate all notifications. The call of the “ping” is alluring. It traps you in your inbox. Once you purge notifications, you can enjoy the promise of communication and connection at a time and location more convenient for you.

* Failure to comply with this checklist will cause you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, burned out, and exhausted.

It’s time to move out of your inbox and move in to achieving your goals, don’t you agree?

Read on:

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  1. I’ve set up my inbox to direct emails from certain clients into specific folders designated for them, it’s such a space saver and seems to help relieve the clutter. It’s also vital to have separate emails for personal and business use, that way you can constantly be in the business mindset simply by only being logged into one email account.

  2. We use Lotus Notes so we can replicate our email boxes and then turn them offline. I can still research what I need using a live Internet connection but I only send emails in a batch when I am done responding rather than playing the ‘ding’ reply, ‘ding’ reply game.

  3. I do the same thing, Bola. It’s made a huge difference in being able to focus on one client project at a time. I’ve also set up folders for bills, marketing, and reading. :-D

    Lotus Notes sounds like a great idea, Jennifer. I’ll have to do some research on them to learn more. I’m with you when it comes to the ding/reply cycle. It feels like I’m on a hamster wheel some days.