Recently I had to make three of my team redundant, but since then I have learned an important lesson. None of the people that were made redundant, were bad or lazy employees and they were all well skilled. Rather due to market conditions, we had to go through this process. They left and I dutifully informed the most important customers and trading partners of their leaving. I then gained access to their inbox. The sole purpose of this was to monitor their emails in the event that one of the customers in future may email using the individual rather than one of the many group email addresses. The intension was to do this up to three months and then delete the exchange account altogether.
Over the next few days I monitored their inbox and the one thing that struck immediately was the amount of newsletters, blogs, corporate update, advert emails and the like (read SPAM) each one of them received. Getting more and more emails is easily done these days. You only have to order something and the company will ask for my email address. It is a way of keeping me in the loop about my order despatch but at the same time you kindly get added to the newsletter recipient list. On top of that companies buy these lists and again you just get added. I dutefully deleted these in order to get to the more important ones.
Doing so only took seconds and yet it was another distraction. During one of these times, I started to wonder about my inbox. Consequently I took a closer look at my own inbox and decided to go spartan.
An unimportant email only takes a few second to delete. Better still lets configure the preview so that you can see the first few lines of the email content without having to open it. Surely this makes it even easier to just delete. Really?! It is amazing how many emails everyone get. I admit most of the time I did not have the time to read them and just deleted them. However you then start to realise that deleting these emails day after day means you never read them and so what is the point of receiving them in the first place. Each one of these are a distraction to your day to day working time. If it is not then maybe this book is not for you, as you clearly have a lot of time on your hands. Secondly is working time really the right moment to read these emails, regardless of how interesting they may be.
So before we talk about inbox optimisation or inbox management, let’s have a spring clean first.
Right now go through your inbox and look at each of these emails. You can do only one of two things: unsubscribe or divert.
Open an email and think about its content and who it is coming from. In most cases I would suggest that the email itself is a distraction. When was the last time that you really read an email from this organisation or thought it enhanced your work related knowledge or understanding. Scroll to the bottom of the email and unsubscribe. Do it now.
Trust me you won’t miss them.
You have now got rid of most of them and if not repeat the above step until you have. Let’s say that you do want to keep one of these subscriptions. Think really hard about this. If you want to keep it then ask yourself if your work email is really the best place to receive them. Maybe it is better to divert these emails to another address. an online mailbox. Alternatively create an inbox rule so that any of these emails are either moved to a specific folder or forwarded to your other email. The important thing here is to get them away from your true inbox. As for me, these specific emails are sent to an inbox which I do not receive at work or on my phone. You will receive less emails in your inbox which leads to less distraction and you will be able to spot that all important email from your customer or boss quicker.
It’s simple but effective