3 Simple Steps to De-Clutter Your Inbox

E-mail Concept
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Stand Up and Stand Out

The best way for you to stand out in your organization or industry is to exhibit time management skills which showcase an ability to handle crucial assignments and/or a large and steady workload. It isn’t easy – as a matter of fact it is one of the most difficult parts of growing up and keeping a job. Being responsible and responsive is a great way to secure your position and place.

Email – still painfully necessary

After all these years of trying and training, one of my biggest drains of time is still, interestingly enough, used to be one of the quickest ways to communicate in business: electronic mail. Email emerged in the late 1970s and became a part of everyday life within 20 years. Its invention was just a stepping stone in the evolution of business communications which has allowed for the near complete elimination of the formerly standard and insanely time-consuming, written ways that businesses communicate which once included handwritten or typed postal service, overnight delivery, and fax.

When I first started recruiting, I used to write handwritten thank you notes to individuals who took the time to participate in a professional reference interview. And trust me, it wasn’t because I loved to write thank you notes. I hoped to be remembered after speaking with senior management professionals. Perhaps they would remember me and want to use my company for their next difficult executive search. Perhaps.  

While email was a much quicker exchange of ideas, contracts, and proposals, it also created a new type of traffic jam. Your inbox is nearly full — so is your other inbox and this inbox.. AGHHHHHH… <not a fan of email>

3 Simple Steps – De-Clutter!

1. Set aside time early in your work day to read all new mail in your inbox, process the information received, and then act on it immediately. This revolutionary approach speeds up the communication highway and can push along a current or pending jam. With the rapid onset of the “internet of things”, an updated approach to business, the evergreen way, continues to develop: going paperless, fewer keystrokes, and touching information only once. Are you doing it?

2. Spend less time processing and exporting emailed information. Relay the information asap to the proper channels, act when necessary, and then, move on! It is mind-numbingly easy to scroll endlessly through an inbox, waiting for the next <breep> as an important email to drop in. Loosen up the control of your inbox but tighten up the time you devote to it.

3. For emails which require more than one touch, create folders or lists and move the item asap or create a task to be acted upon at a later time and then, schedule that time. Take advantage of the calendaring functionality of your email server and set reminders to complete tasks. And stop printing. Just stop.

Life Twisted Biz Lesson

Perhaps adding a relationship lesson to your business day will assist in cleaning up your inbox.  Do you remember this one, “Never go to bed angry”? Here’s my biz twist: “Don’t leave your desk until all email is read.” I have heard it said that habits require two solid weeks to instill. Make constant de-cluttering a habit: act quickly and move on.

Establishing an inbox scrub is a giant step toward managing the time of which we never seem to have enough.  Scrub your inbox,then keep it clean.


by Rayanne Thorn

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  1. Great advice. I’ve learned over the years to manage my emails in pretty much the manner described. I also keep them organized using the same structure as my quaint paper files, HR Operations Manual & web browser book marks. . It takes only a moment & you can look uber efficient when you can effortlessly retrieve information. I call it my HR Dewey Decimal System.


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