How to Spring-Clean Your Email Inbox and Be More Efficient

1 - How to Spring-Clean Your Email Inbox and Be More Efficient
2 - For Starters, Send Less Email
3 - Consider Using a Project Management App
4 - Be Specific About What Needs to Be Done With Your Messages
5 - Special Advice for Gmail Users
6 - Use the 'Yesterbox' Technique
7 - Unsubscribe from Newsletters You Don't Read Anymore
8 - Use Boomerang for Gmail
9 - Inbox Zero, or No Inbox Zero
10 - More Advice About Using Email Efficiently
11 - Canned Responses Can Save You Time
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How to Spring-Clean Your Email Inbox and Be More Efficient

by Chris Preimesberger

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For Starters, Send Less Email

If you send less, chances are, you'll receive less, which means that you'll have fewer messages to sort, organize and reply to. Also, it's okay to check emails in the morning, but hold off on replying immediately. Instead, reply to emails at specific times during the day. (Don't constantly check, or else you'll end up using time you should be spending on priority tasks and projects).

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Consider Using a Project Management App

When working on projects, consider using an app—such as Trello, Asana, Evernote and others—to communicate with colleagues and business partners. That way, you'll keep your inbox clear.

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Be Specific About What Needs to Be Done With Your Messages

You should specify each email as follows: a) reply; b) move items to your calendar (i.e., meeting requests); c) add items to your tasks list; or d) archive or delete messages you no longer need. Use folders (Outlook) and labels (Gmail) to categorize your messages so they can be found easily.

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Special Advice for Gmail Users

Use the tabbed inbox feature to automatically collect and separate messages in four buckets: Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates. Or use labels to categorize your emails—examples, needs a reply, delegated, travel, to-do's, etc.

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Use the 'Yesterbox' Technique

This was created by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Basically, you must tackle 10 messages from yesterday (hence the name "Yesterbox") before you take action on today's emails.

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Unsubscribe from Newsletters You Don't Read Anymore

Apps like Unroll.me and Unsubscriber will help you unsubscribe from newsletters you didn't sign up for or no longer want.

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Use Boomerang for Gmail

This Google app will remove certain emails from your inbox and boomerang (or send) them back at a time you specify (i.e., when you can work on them). The Right Inbox app will let you add reminders to an email so that you don't lose track of important conversations. FollowUp.cc does something similar.

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Inbox Zero, or No Inbox Zero

You may not be an Inbox Zero person, and that's okay. InboxZero is a Gmail app that turns emails into tasks that have to be done. Many mail apps (including Gmail) have very powerful search features to help you find particular messages you're looking for. But if you are an Inbox Zero person, schedule time each week (or daily) to sort through and organize your inbox.

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More Advice About Using Email Efficiently

Be specific with your subject lines and include a keyword that will help you find a particular message when you need it. Use the Any.do extension (Gmail) to help turn your emails into to-do items. The extension places a widget on each email that asks you to specify the next action for each message.

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Canned Responses Can Save You Time

Use canned responses for messages you send frequently. That way, you won't have to keep recreating the same message over and over.

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