Many of our lives are intermingled with internet and everything that comes with it such as blogs, information sites and emails. Imagining life without emails seem impossible. How did people communicated without emails before? Many of us have more than one email accounts (as many of them are free to get) and they are all filled out millions of emails with blog feeds, work related emails, jokes, chain emails, to-do-lists, invitations and of course lot of spam emails too!
I had at least 8 emails accounts not so long ago;
1. Work/office email
2. Professional/career email account to keep in touch with ex-company’s friends and networking
3. Family and close friends email
4. Mommy and playgroup email
5. Junk email to use with online and offline usage
6. Craigslist household items selling email
7. Blogging email
8. Extra backup email to send high resolutions images to family/friends
This list can go on; I was so overwhelmed and confused which email address to give it and to whom and when. Once I left my job and became stay at home mom, I eventually, consolidated all emails in to ONLY 2 email accounts;
1. One for all: Family, friends, Mommy friends, Preschool related, yahoo groups emails, blogs, etc.
2. I kept one email for selling items online, using for online usage
It was lot better and I let other account expire and delete them after keeping the friend’s emails and updating them to changes in to my email account.
Furthermore simplifying was needed. Here are the some of the steps I took;
My zen emailing plan:
1. For my top yahoo groups that I like, I subscribed to daily digest for it, so I would get only one email from that busy and active group instead of 55 emails everyday.
2. I opted out of some of email groups.
3. I decided to be part of some important groups, but opted to read activities online rather then having it deliver information to my email box.
4. I always do quick browse and delete emails right away.
5. If email answer is required, I usually follow up with answer or possible future update. If clarification is needed, either I call follow up with email or phone call, depending on nature of urgency.
6. If there is an email or address change I quickly change it in my address book, online and my real life address book.
7. If there is an invitation and if we are going, I quickly right it down in our family calender in kitchen area, so all of us can see it and do not plan other activities during that time.
8. I save and download family pictures and files on computer hard drive and delete emails.
9. I make sure my email in-box is around less than 10 emails. Everything else is sorted, dealt with or deleted.
10. I do not use email for my to-do list. I actually do write down things I need to do from email to hand written notebook.
Now with blogging, I have a couple of new accounts, so I need to re sort my list again. Just like other things in your life, email simplifying needs regular and periodic maintenance. If I slack off, my in-box grows and I can not find information easily and may miss gathering or two or sometimes lot more, like my zen sanity.
My tips for stopping email madness;
1. Start in small steps. Set up strong spam filter to avoid getting many junk emails.
2. Decide what is important for you and consolidate accounts.
3. Check your email only twice a day, for example, 9AM and 3.30 PM. It will give you time to finish important things.
4. People may tell you, their request is urgent so check email every 2 minutes. If it is urgent, pick up a phone and call, walk up to that person and ask.
5. Keep your in-box clutter free by purging unnecessary emails.
6. Keep task related email in one folder than delete the whole folder after task is completely done. For example, I had a Christmas travel plans with family and kept all related emails, travel information and site-seeing details in to one folder and deleted that folder after trip was complete. This made deleting easy at once and kept my in-box free of clutter.
These are things that work for me. Modify to fit your life style as there is no one size fit all approach. You may want to do one step, instead of doing everything at once, start check email 4 times per day, than reduce it to twice a day. Now I check my email every 2-3 days and it seems to be working fine for my life style. Do what works for you but do something! As I know and I am sure, it will help you take control over your emails and give you little peace of mind.
By doing above steps not only you will increase your real productivity but you will also have mental peace too.
What other ways do you keep sanity with millions of emails we seemed to be getting each day? Did I miss any? Let me know.
To see previous post on 101 changes click here 101 changes – Reduce drinking soda .