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Why you need to change your Email Organisation

Emails have always been a bane in my life.  Yes they have their uses and it makes things so much faster and efficient, but we are drowning in emails and many of us find our inboxes are just becoming a digital hoard of messages we can’t organise or clear.

This is part of My WriterLife Series. 

Here is how I organise my email systems to make things easier.

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Empty Inbox

I used to be the sort of person who stored everything in my inbox.  It was my catchall and I assumed this was the best thing!

No, it isn’t.  It’s overwhelming when the first thing you see when you login, is a mass of emails that need sorting.

Yes, I wasn’t big on sorting my emails when they arrived.  Probably because I would clear through loads and then the next day have another 20 arrive.  It’s like a never-ending task and it just wears away your motivation.

So I would log in, see all these emails and…. log out.

To combat this sense of overwhelm, I created a pending folder and named it _PENDING.  The underscore meant it was always at the top of my folder list.

How I keep my inbox empty

Every email I received was sent to that folder.  It is SO calming to login and see an empty inbox.  Yes, my pending folder is full but there is a psychological need to see empty when I first logged in.

The fact I still have all those emails, they are just in a different place doesn’t bother me, I just don’t see them immediately and it keeps me ready to tackle them.

I actually keep on top of my emails way more than I ever did before and I still get loads.

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Use Folders

I have witnessed some people who use their inbox as their catchall and don’t even have ANY folders.  *shudders*

Just like you should have folders on your computer for storing and categorising your saved work, so should you use folders in your email.

After all, there is always something you need to keep.

Maybe it’s a copy of a receipt, newsletters you want to read, that e-bill you need to check has gone out, a link to a software download… whatever it is you want to keep, it should be stored in folders.

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A – Z

Keep your system simple.  First I made the folders I needed, trying not to over-create.  It can be easy to make more folders than you need when some emails can be stored in one.

Next, I created alphabetised root folders.

How I organise my email folders

Above you can see how my emails are set up.  My root folders are alphabetised, broken down into:

  • A – E
  • F – J
  • K – O
  • P – T
  • U – Z

I then moved all my earlier created folders into the relevant root folder, so they became sub-folders.

This way, rather than having a lot of folders to trawl up and down through, I just keep my root folders collapsed and open whichever I need when I want to find something.

It keeps everything neat and compact and easy to find.

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Temp Emails

One trick for keeping your emails tidy is by reducing spam emails. Some spam emails come from when you’ve had to fork over your email address for confirmation.

You know how sometimes you just need to create an account just to buy something and you’ll probably never use that online shop again?  Or you join a course and when it’s over you’re on their mailing list and you get emails so sporadically you forget to unsubscribe?

Rather than using your real email address there are Temporary Email addresses.  These can be used to sign up for something to get a download or to buy an item and you can receive the receipt.

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The temporary email lives for a short time, some are 10 mins, others are 60mins, just enough time to get the download, access the online course, receive your order confirmation etc.

Then it vanishes and you aren’t left with getting spam over and over.  Here are two services that offer temporary emails.

Temp Mail

Guerrilla Mail

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Use a Signature

I’ve talked about using an email signature before as part of my Monday Marketing.  But making sure you include information on where people can find you (social media), what days you work (if you run a business you can include your open hours here).

I have a different email address for dealing with things such as when I sell or donate items via Gumtree or Freecycle respectively.

My signature has a list of all the items I am selling and donating.  I have found that this increases the chances of everything going.

So if someone contacts me about x on Gumtree, I reply and they see my signature and often ask about other items they didn’t realise I was selling.

I’ve shifted twice as much stuff since I started doing this.  So think about how you can use your email signature to your advantage.

 

How do you organise your emails? Do you ever feel overwhelmed with emails?

Share your Thoughts image.

Happy writing

Signature & logo of Ari Meghlen

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16 comments

  1. Great advice! I have an email signature on my writers email, thanks to a previous post of yours. And I use folders a great deal. Also I ‘colour’ code individual ones that I want to reply to later which are not urgent. Now to share!

  2. Excellent advice. I’ve had my gmails in folders for a long time. My other email address I’ve not done so. I ought to, though, but I don’t get so many from that one.
    The idea of a tremporary email address is brilliant, though. I’m off to see about it now.

    1. I think getting your list empty is a great way to do it. I don’t often manage but I always try and clear more emails than came in on the current day.

    1. my partner is like that. His inbox has to be empty every day. I try but it rarely happens because I have so many to deal with and I truly only manage to have enough email energy for a batch at a time some days.

  3. Good advice. I have used folders for a few years, although primarily for those I’ve read and want for reference/research. Over the last three months I’ve been overwhelmed with emails – mainly because I did an April challenge entailing writing every day. So yesterday, I created files for the unread emails I couldn’t delete – including a Backlog file for book reviews. I may still have 100+ unopened emails, but my Inbox seems emptier. LOL.

    1. Oh yeah, I know the feeling of suddenly ending up with hoards of emails that are unread. If I sign up for something or join a challenge I can get overwhelmed with how many emails I get. I also found that several emails didn’t stop even when I unsubscribed so months later I was chasing them to make sure they actually removed me from their lists.

  4. Yes! I am all about e-mail organization. I may not receive as many e-mails as you do (intentional) but without sorting them I would lose very important documents.

    When I started Silver Pencil Books as an imprint, I realized that I needed to keep receipts for my business expenses. So now I have a receipts folder that is sorted by date. 2017, 2018, 2019. Then all I have to do is go into that folder in order to pull any receipts for taxes.

    Pay stubs, private e-mails, shipping information, all of these are kept in separate folders. Most importantly, any items that have a license code for activation, those are put in a special archive folder. This folder is in case my PC has a meltdown and apps need to be reinstalled. Can’t reinstall without the codes!

    But where I truly separate and sort my items is through the e-mail itself.

    One e-mail is dedicated exclusively towards Silver Ninja interactions. Beta reads, newsletters, pitches, querying.
    One e-mail is dedicated to work. Work e-mails, schedules, hiring contractors, etc,
    And then my home e-mail is for everything else. Banking, pay stubs, receipts, shipping, etc.

    So far this is working for me, but now that I am accepting credit card transactions for book orders. I’ve now created a rule so that any CC transactions are sent to a CC exclusive folder. I wouldn’t want those transactions getting lost in a sea of e-mails.

    So yes, I am definitely all about the organized e-mail bandwagon.

    1. I love it, that is so organised! It is so important to stay on top when you run a business and have expenses and things that need tracking.

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