Reasons why your inbox gets (and stays) cluttered: 1: Procrastination – Apply the 2 Minute Rule: if you can respond to a message in 2 minutes or less, do it immediately. 2: Combined uses – Use separate email addresses for personal and business messages. 3. Disorganized – Create a daily, weekly, and monthly routine for purging, reading, and responding. 4. Ineffective filing system – Email messages are just like paper documents; create an efficient tickler/filing system. 5. Fear – afraid that if you delete or file it you will forget about it? Your 1st decision needs to be, “Is this an action, or reference item?” This will enable you to decide what your next step is. Need more guidance? Sign up for my newsletter and receive your email management checklist!
Summer is a great time to catch up with all of those tasks you said you would get to, right? Emergency and disaster preparedness obviously has to be organized before an actual event. Being prepared means protecting yourself from theft, including your identity. Here is an article with tips from the IRS that you will find helpful: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection-Tips
Do you think that summer organizing is limited to cleaning out the garage? Well it’s also the best time to focus on disaster preparedness. No matter where you live you are going to want to use a checklist to ensure that you’ve addressed a variety of: types of disasters important documents and records valuables, including sentimental possessions. Here are some resources that you can refer to: FEMA: http://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan CDC: http://emergency.cdc.gov/preparedness/ Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan You may also contact your local chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) to find an Organizer who can get you started!
Do you get those inserts with your statements encouraging you to go paperless? Outside In Approach TIP #1 – Implement the “1-at-a-Time Rule”. Get into the habit of going paperless, 1 account at a time. It only takes a couple of minutes. Outside In Approach TIP #2 – Create & practice your “Optimal Habits”. Every 6 mos. to a year, change your password. Outside In Approach TIP #3 – Here’s another “Optimal Habit” to practice…Every 6 months, purge the unnecessary inserts in your account files and shred them.
How many messages are in your inbox right now? Are most of them opened but you don’t know what to do with them? Outside In Organizer and Makeovers shares these tips about how to manage your email and in essence…improve your time management. First, treat your inbox like any potential source of clutter. The process of organizing it is the same: PURGE, SORT, ORGANIZE. Second, delete any junk mail and unsubscribe from unnecessary sites. Tip three, create files to store messages that are for future use or reference. Purge these at least once a month. Tip four, designate action items that are already overdue. Tip five would be to mark those items that require your action or response within the next week. The next tip is the most important one…schedule 1 time in the morning and 1 time later in the day to read, organize, and respond to your email. Commit to this rather than checking your email throughout the day, you will increase your productivity.
Now that you’ve sorted and prioritized the mail you can set up a system to contain it as it comes in. Whoever brings the mail into the house or office needs to be able to follow the system. Think about 3-4 broad categories and where you want to locate the containers. Do you want them on the table in your entryway? In the kitchen? On your desk? That is the immediate go to place, no dumping a pile of mail anywhere else! Suggested categories: READING, NON-URGENT (ex.: catalogues, magazines). TIP: Recycle circulars for stores you don’t shop in before you go into the house. FINANCES, BILLS PERSONAL (ex., letters, cards, products ordered) You decide on how you want to contain your mail categories, keep it simple. Consider the size of the space that it sits in, ease of access, and even aesthetics.
When I’m out and see a dog pulling it’s owner by the leash I can’t help but wonder who is walking whom? Is your email managing you and your time? Is it causing you stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed? Try this process for no less than 2 weeks: (1) Commit to checking your email no more than 2-3x/day. Schedule 10-20 minutes everyday, at specific times, and check only then! The benefits? You will feel more focused and less distracted and this alone will improve your productivity. (2) Delete junk email immediately. Unsubscribe to sites that do not have specific personal or professional value. The benefits? You will save time, money, and have more time for important communications. (3) Create a folder for “ACTION” emails. When you check email, if you can act on it quickly, do so. Move all other “action” items into the folder; these are items that have a due date and/or require more attention. The benefits? You will have an effective system for prioritizing tasks, save time looking for items, and never miss a deadline. (4) Create a folder for “REFERENCE” emails. Move items that have no due date or require any action into this folder. These are emails that look interesting and can be read later or kept for future informational purposes. Purge this folder at least monthly, if you haven’t read these items in a month they are probably not important enough to save! The benefits? Optimize your time, manage the volume of incoming emails, prioritizing improves productivity and reduces stress.
The workplace whether it is a home office, a corporation, or a classroom is often inundated with email. We save messages, procrastinate about reading them, acting on them, and worse we print them out and leave them in piles on our desks. One way to start to organize and declutter is to establish a designated time at least once a day to read email. That means managing your time and committing to an organized schedule. Make time to save time! The next decision to make is if it is information that needs to be kept (in an electronic file), acted on, or discarded. I have more ideas that will help you organize your office! Do you get emails that can be read and don’t require a response? Do you feel like you have to respond even if it is just to say “thank you”? These days how do we define ‘courtesy’ when it comes to sending and receiving emails? And what about those list serves and group emails? We know that time is money and that both are hard to find. When you respond to an email to only say thank you it takes the recipient(s) time to open the email and read or even just visually scan the content, and then delete it (I love the ones that come back saying “you’re welcome”). When the email is sent out to a group of individuals you can multiply those seconds by the number of recipients and get an accurate assessment of the impact of unproductive time. Most messages are sent to inform and to inquire about something with no expectation of response for the latter, in other words, to share information. Most of us have been raised to be polite, and that is a wonderful skill that we don’t want… read more →