Sometimes I get overwhelmed by my inbox, which seems to take on a life of its own.
Which makes me panic.
So what do I do?
Well… I just leave it.
And the emails keep popping in until I have an astronomical high number of unread email sitting there, that just makes me want to weep and bang my head on the table.
So I ignore it.
Even though I do know that isn’t going to help.
Even though I am fully aware that denial is not a strategy.
The thing is, I don’t want to deal with it then and there.
I don’t like filing emails. I know they are there and I am a hoarder (I will write about that another time).
So I have a few tricks.
They aren’t really fooling me into thinking they are making it better, but they are a ‘quick fix’ and more importantly, they make ME feel better.
Just to be clear: I am not saying these are a solution. They won’t make the problem go away, but they are a temporary quick fix to make you feel better.
1. Quick Fix nr. 1: create a sub inbox
Shhh I have several of these!
If you are longing for the ‘zero inbox’, it might take a while. For it to be done properly you have to filter, go through your emails, and unsubscribe what you don’t really need / want to receive any more (clue: the ones you NEVER read) and then keep this good habit going.
But if you want an instant makeover and be under the illusion that you too have a zero inbox, just create a new folder, name it ‘Inbox + date’ or ‘Inbox – TO FILE’ or whatever means something to you and…
… select all the emails sitting in your inbox and drag into that folder.
ET VOILÀ!!! Instant ‘zero inbox’.
You can deal with all of it later (you probably won’t, which is a clear sign that it clearly isn’t relevant email).
And when you need to search for something that isn’t filed where it should be, just search in that folder.
It’s an inbox within a inbox. A bit like russian dolls.
WARNING: this can become addictive. I would say once you have more than 3, you really should try something else.
2. Quick fix nr 2: smash that number
What is your inbox number? How many unopened emails do you have? It is probably a high number, in the 00s or 000s, which means realistically it is too overwhelming to deal with.
So, like for all big tasks: BREAK IT DOWN
Don’t stay stuck just because you are overwhelmed by its enormity.
Let’s say you have 1000 unopened emails.
How many can you deal with in a day – realistically? (and don’t say 1 because that will take 1000 days…)
Pick a round number, but stretch out of your comfort zone for a while. Could you do 100 / day?
Let’s assume you could.
That means in 10 days you could have dealt with all of them, and 10 days is just over a week.
You will obviously also have to add on the ones that arrive in the meantime, but I usually just add those on as bonuses (and it shouldn’t be a problem unless you are receiving over 100 or so a day, in which case you probably have another problem to fix, or to up your number / day).
Let’s break it into steps:
- Step 1: keep your eye on the inbox number, in this example, 1000
- Step 2: sort by name rather than date
- Step 3: select all those ones from the same sender and decide what you want to do with them:
- are they important?
- do they need to be filed / answered / deleted / unsubscribed?
- then take whatever action (including, if you cannot decide right now, dragging into inbox mentioned above in ‘quick fix nr 1’)
- then keep going – rinse and repeat – until you have dealt with those 100.
When your inbox number is 900 you are done (for the day)! And it has probably taken less than 5 minutes. Then later in the day just deal with the others that come in by taking the action needed immediately.
If you have done this properly, the next day you should have inbox of 900+the ones that arrived in the meantime. saty 940.
Apply the same method until you get to 850, and so on.
It works because it suddenly seems doable, you have a target and an action plan.
Which just goes to show how we do need plans, targets and goals to be efficient and stop procrastinating.
But they cannot be overwhelming. they have to be doable.
I would love to hear what you think and if you have any other ‘quick fixes’ or other ways to manage your inbox instead of it managing you.
Hit reply and let me know how you get on when you tidy up your inbox!