Is Your Inbox Overweight?
3 Tips to Help You Break the Habit of Keeping Too Much
If you read my latest blog post, you know I was talking about the groups of people out there who are self-proclaimed “knowledge junkies” or “e-hoarders.” It’s interesting to me that with an Internet that allows us to reach any bit of news, information, knowledge, facts, stats and discoveries, some still feel this need to hold on to everything they get – and then go looking for more! And I asked this question: Since when is more the solution to already having too much?
When your e-mail Inbox holds too much – and when the e-mail folders do too! – it can cloud your view of what’s useful or important to you and there are dangers of missing deadlines, tasks, opportunities, great ideas, and critical information.
However, even though you may unknowingly be drifting into the e-hoarding world – and prefer not to! – I’m here to help you out. If you’re interested, I can help you keep only what’s useful to you, both now and in the foreseeable future; I can help you process your e-mail out of the Inbox so you can clearly separate the useful information and actionable tasks from the junk; and I can help you manage less and search less if you’d rather focus more on doing, achieving and enjoying life.
To start losing weight in your e-mail Inbox, one of the main things you have to do no matter what is start making more decisions about what you’re asking for and what you’re getting. So with that in mind, here are 3 helpful tips to help you get away from the e-hoarding habit.
- Don’t keep everything because you might need it again later.
You won’t exactly know how you’re going to use something 5 years from now, so don’t use that as an excuse to save everything under the sun. For everything you ask for, like blog updates, subscriptions, social media updates, etc… reduce that volume to only what you can read, appreciate, and use .
You have to go with what you know today and what your best predictions are for your near future, given that you’re really clear about who you are and what you’re doing in your business. If that changes later, then you can look for, and be open to, new information. For now, if you’re getting more than you can possibly read, need, appreciate or use, then what’s the point?
- Set up individual, reliable systems so you can actually find things again
Too many people keep (and search for) reference information that’s stuck in an e-mail – either as the content or the attachments – and have a hard time finding it again alter; same for the embedded contacts, calendar information and tasks.
Instead of leaving this information in the Inbox, put the information in an existing system meant for that kind of information. Use ONE of each: calendar, address book, electronic task list, e-file system, etc… You only need ONE place for each system (not dual or multi systems) and you need to know, without a doubt, where to go to get what you want without hesitation, confusion or a heavy-duty search.
Keep things consolidated in their specific systems. That’s where these things “belong.” That’s why these systems exist.
- Stop spending (wasting) time on searches in your e-mail Inbox or folders
If you can’t find something, it’s usually because you don’t have a trusted system in place to keep it. But it’s probably also because you didn’t read it well enough in the first place to know how it’s really going to be useful to you in the future. And if you don’t know how something’s going to be useful to you, you’d have a hard time filing it wouldn’t you?
To solve this issue, s-l-o-w down and read things so you can determine what it is and how it’s useful to you. It only takes 60 seconds (really… I time my clients) and then you’ll easily know whether it’s worth keeping or not. Then go back to Tip #2 and put it where you can find it again.
It’s no different than creating a place for physical things or physical files you need to find again in your office. Would you launch an all-out, top-to-bottom search every time you needed to find something in your office? (I hope not!)