7 Steps to Take Back Your Inbox

7 Steps to Take Back Your Inbox

Have you heard about SuperHuman.com? It’s an email service that works with a Gmail or GSuite accounts and claims to be “the fastest email service ever made.” Sounds promising, right? But when I investigated and learned it cost $30 a month, I decided there’s a lot more I can do on my own to improve my email efficiency.

Here are seven steps I recommend to financial advisors and financial planners for taking back your inbox.

  1. Turn off all email notifications and check your email according to your priorities and schedule.

On your phone, I recommend turning off email notifications and sounds as well as removing the unread email counter on the icon (also known as a “badge).  If you use Outlook on your computer, go to File, Options, Mail and uncheck the four(!) different ways that Outlook can notify you when new messages arrive.

  1. Create filters and rules to split your inbox into logical groups. Most email programs will let you create filters (or rules) to auto-sort incoming emails.  A great way to use filters is to send all newsletters to a “Newsletter” folder so that you can read them in a single sitting.
  2. Block time on your calendar to process your email. I use two different approaches when viewing my inbox.  The first approach is a quick swipe to delete irrelevant emails and quickly respond to important emails.  The second approach is to read though all the remaining emails to decide what I need to do and when I need to do it.
  3. Unsubscribe to any emails that are not relevant, send the same information as other newsletters, or arrive too frequently. For example, do you need a “Breaking News” email and a “Daily News” email from the same website?

Not sure what to unsubscribe from?  Try sorting your Trash folder by sender and you’ll quickly see how often you receive messages from various senders.

  1. Create and use folders to store emails related to a specific project or client. An empty or nearly empty inbox will give you a sense of accomplishment and clarity.  With folders, you can quickly find messages without trying to figure out the right search terms.
  2. Learn keyboard shortcuts. Here are the keyboard shortcuts for Outlook and the keyboard shortcuts for Gmail. When I go through my email, I keep my left hand over the “ASDF” keys and my right hand over Ctrl, Delete, Page Up and Page Down. I use the arrow keys along with Page Up and Page Down to navigate and CTRL-D to quickly delete emails.
  3. Develop the habit of dealing with each email only once―respond to it immediately; pick a time to respond to it later; file it away; or delete it.

It takes some discipline, but follow these simple steps, and you’ll soon see your inbox shrink, and your productivity grow.

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