For many, returning from annual leave can be extremely daunting, an inbox with a gazillion emails.
Many internal telling you that Dave has been kind enough to bring in cake, many from issues that have occurred during your absence and have been subsequently resolved, and the worst offenders, the many newsletters and other distractions that cloud you from being able to focus on the core issues at hand on your return.
Now, I know some people that relish in telling people just how many emails they’ve come back from holiday to find. I personally, am elated that following a week on leave, I’ve not checked my inbox once and have just 81 emails that require consideration or filing.
Maintaining a tidy inbox is something that was drilled into me right from my first role as a graduate and I believe it’s one of the best habits you can form.
I have spoken to people a few times about a few of the things I do to keep my inbox tidy and thought it could be helpful to put together some quick tips.
Folder Structure – This is one of the best things you can do to be organised and find key information when it’s called upon in the future. Clearly each person's folder structure will be different and with my role in business development I have the following top level:
6. Leads for future follow up
7. Closed Lost
BCC yourself – Although all emails automatically go into your sent folder, setting a rule to auto BCC yourself on any email means you can file a timeline of comms into a folder. The extra seconds you spend filing this save a lot of time when you need to call back on something in the future!
Last email in the chain – Making sure you only have the last email in a chain either from you or from the recipient keeps things clean and enables a quick scan of who actions sit with and how long since you’ve last been in contact on an issue/opportunity.
Set up rules and filters – This quick exercise can save you a lot of time in working out which items are priority, and which are noise.
Everyone will need to set up different filters but I find the following to be really helpful.
- ‘Unsubscribe’ – A rule that moves any email with the word unsubscribe, automatically re-directs to the newsletters folder. This folder then gets a scan once or twice a week for anything interesting.
- ‘CRM’ – A rule that moves anything from the CRM notification email addresses into the relevant folder in Notifications. Again this reduces noise and means you can do a quick skim update on what has changed, rather than drip feed of information.
- ‘Adobe’ – Same rule as above
- Sales@/Info@/Hello@ - 90% of the time, emails that come to these addresses are other companies hawking their wares. Moving these to a Leads Folder for processing enables you to filter out any genuine enquiries.
Junk –Block the sender and mark anything that skips the filer into junk. I’ve also set rules for common offenders to direct straight to junk. For example anything that contains ‘franking machine’ or ‘buy business leads for’ go straight to junk. I will then scan through the junk folder once a week to ensure nothing genuine has been caught up.
CC – If you receive a lot of ‘FYI’ emails, a rule that dictates anything you’re on CC for goes to a separate folder can be helpful. I don’t use this particular rule in my current role but know of some people for whom this is very useful!
Hopefully you’ve found at least some of this helpful, and if you have any other top tips please let me know!