If you tend to have an intimidating number of unopened emails in your inbox, here are some tips to get things under control before you reach a tipping point of chaos:
1. Create a useful folder system. Your folders should be intuitive, labeled by category and deadline, says Yvette Bowlin, a mindfulness coach and owner of The Declutterist. “Set filters in your email inbox so frequent incoming emails arrive only into their proper folders,” she says.
2. Use clear, thorough subject lines. Complete, descriptive titles in the subject line can help you and the recipient easily understand the email’s content, Bowlin says.
3. Set specific times to check email. Instead of interrupting your work all the time, designate three times a day on your calendar to scroll your inbox, says Alex Moore, CEO of email productivity company Boomerang. If you’re trying to concentrate on something, turn off email notifications so you’re not tempted to check the inbox every few minutes, he says.
4. Archive and delete. Don’t fear your Trash folder. Delete emails you won’t need to refer to again. File anything that doesn’t require your immediate attention in a folder with a deadline, and anything informational that needs to be saved should be archived in its appropriate folder.
5. Prepare for the next day. Before you log out at day’s end, take a peek at what’s coming tomorrow, Moore says. “If you have messages that need a response early in the morning, you can prepare and plan ahead rather than scramble first thing.”