Too often you hear from people – “I have so many emails” “There are 1000 emails in my inbox” and they include a tone mixed with equal parts complaint and pride.  Pride that they are so important and obviously busy. But how much productiveness and effectiveness is going on with that act of being seemingly busy? Why is their inbox so out of control?  Anyone recognise themselves here?

We all have times when we feel like we can’t keep on top of things, and having an out of control inbox does not make it any easier for you to manage your day to day priorities.   So how can you clean up your inbox and manage it without feeling like you need an extra 15 hours a week for email management?

There are a thousand apps and plugins that a quick internet search can point you in the direction of, but if you’re not into more technology to manage your technology, here are a four quick tips to help you out.

1. An obvious one, but unsubscribe from mailing lists that don’t interest you. If you’re not reading it, take yourself off receiving it!

2. Stop using your inbox as a To Do List. You’ll spend half your time searching through your inbox to figure out what you should be doing next instead of just getting on with it. Use a designated to do list – whether that be my personal fave – the hand written hard copy to do list that I use to plan my week, or some kind of software or electronic project tasks lists.

3. Set up a simple folder structure to file your emails – think of your inbox like an overflowing in tray on your desk when you have an empty filing cabinet right next to it. Trying to find anything is time confusing and frustrating, so file it away! When it comes to assigning where emails should go, the quickest way to sort it out is to change your filter view of your inbox to “by subject”.  Every email under the subject will appear, regardless of who sent it and you can bulk file.  If you’re organisation has a shared filing structure, make sure you use it.

4. Rules, rules, rules. If you’re a person who gets CC’d into a lot of emails that seem to clog up your inbox, are rarely things you need to act on and are only a polite FYI (which is what they should be for) consider setting up a folder entitled CC with a rule that any email that gets sent to you in which you’re CC’d goes straight to this folder. You can then only check once or twice a day to make sure that things that do require your immediate attention, get your attention.

This is just a few tips that could assist you, but there are so many others out there. What are some of the best ways you’ve found to manage your inbox?