006: Processing your email
Having a plan for dealing with email is a must! The most helpful article I’ve read on processing and organising the constant flow of emails into your inbox is one by Tim Challies called Taming the Email Beast.
He writes that with every email you receive, you have a few options:
Trash it: “If it is junk or something that is irrelevant to you, erase it.”
Archive it: “If it is something you may need in the future, but that requires no action on your part, archive it.”
Reply to it: “If you can reply to it in no more than ten or fifteen seconds and with little mental exertion, do that right away.”
Move it to your Reply folder: “If you cannot reply to it in just a few seconds or if it will require some thought, move it to your reply folder.”
If you do this for every email that comes in, you will achieve Inbox Zero.
But for this process to work smoothly, you need to have three locations set up in your email:
Inbox: “A place to receive new email.”
Reply: “A place to hold email you will reply to at a later time.”
Archive: “A place to hold email you need to keep for archive purposes.”
I’ve been using this method for more than 5 years and it works well!
One final comment that has proved so helpful is this one from Kristin Muhlner, which reminds me that I don’t need to reply to every email. She writes, “I love email…But unless I’m specifically asked a question, I don’t respond.”
(Photo: Julia Joppien)