In this post you will find out:
How to deal with a large number of emails.
In the next one (already tomorrow):
How to prevent the receipt of excess e-mail.
How to set standards for outgoing and incoming messages.
How to process information more efficiently.
The source of the greatest amount of fatigue and stress in working life is undoubtedly the amount of information that we are forced to absorb every day. In recent times the main culprit here is electronic mail. Many times I have heard from my friends that they can only work at home, at work, they only cope with 25% of new emails. It is not difficult to imagine what the weekly increase of unsettled cases will be when we allow ourselves to work in such a system.
According to research conducted by Radicati Group, a typical corporate employee gets 127 emails a day. So it will not be an exaggeration to say that people suffer from a chronic overload of the mind. Information flows from so many sources that we are unable to fully process them, nor can we ignore them.
Before we organise the current mail, we should look at the current state. Everything will be simpler if we are just starting a new job and want to maintain order in our email and computer from the beginning. Unfortunately, as experience tells me, we are looking for help and hints on how to manage this area only when we are starting to fail to cope with the overwhelming reality – so we have to sort out the present state. In addition, today’s companies have one fundamental problem with the continuity of knowledge precisely in connection with the transition from paper documentation to corporate mailing. By feeling responsible for the company we work for, we should also take care of archiving the knowledge flowing out of our emails so that in the future when we are not here, the company has not lost contact with the documents and projects we have worked on.
How to manage mail history?
There are two ways. One simple, easy and fun – less effective in the future with the use of these archived documents, but nevertheless recommended by me when dealing with the huge backlog and the huge amount of messages in the inbox. The second, dedicated to people who have started to work not long ago, have a relatively small supply of mail to “clean up” and are able to devote some free time to sort them. People who have used their own methods of managing mail and electronic documents, but it has become insufficient and unsuccessful, can also use this method.
The first way
This way you can apply every time you go on vacation and despite the autoresponder setting, you expect to see a lot of emails (but that’s the end).
- View all outstanding emails for the date they were received.
- Determine the years of this correspondence.
- Create directories in your inbox for each year separately.
- Move one selection of all emails to the respective directories by grouping them with receipt dates.
- Exactly the same is done with the mail in the sent section (we throw them into the same directory as received to keep the thread continuity).
- The end of the operation is to stay in the “Receive” and “Sent” emails for the last two months, assuming they are up to date and need to be sorted in the way recommended for new mail.
The second way
This method naturally involves sorting the current and future mail.
- To address the emails in Receipt and Sent, we approach exactly as if we wanted to attach paper documents to traditional workbooks. Each workbook is clearly and legibly defined not only for us but as if we wanted the replacement person to easily find what he was looking for in our mailbox.
- Depending on our scope of responsibilities and the specific nature of the activity, these may be the names of the projects we are working on, the names of the clients we serve, the names of our subordinates or our colleagues with whom we have a lot of interaction.
- Directly beneath the Inbox, we create 3 subdirectories (1. Current, 2. Auxiliary, 3. Archived).
- In each of the 3, we catalogue subdirectories called according to the specificity of work as in point 2 above.
- When placing documents in these subdirectories, it is worth remembering that when working on every issue we often collect hundreds of working emails, so the message containing, as an attachment, the final version of the document, the final findings or important presentations are worth highlighting additionally using the function (color category – about this slightly lower ).
- At the moment when we definitively finish work on a particular project, the catalogue of this project is translated from “Current” to “Archived”.
- You can also shorten your way to important and frequently visited directories by placing them in your “favourite”
The vacation method
- Before leaving for the holidays, we set up an autoresponder, informing that we will not be there at the time, the post will not be administered, and we will be replaced by another person (unless we are irreplaceable – that is another matter).
- After returning from vacation, we move without reading all the emails that have been sent to our mailbox to the “Holidays 2016” directory and place it in the root directory “2. Auxiliary “.
- We reach for that directory and the emails we posted there when someone will need our reaction. Then we deal with the same email as the current one and catalogue it according to the affair.
- Other emails, if we have a spare time, we can read – to take a look at the situation when we were on leave. After reading each email, it immediately goes to its destination directory (belonging to the case).
- Those that we do not read will always be in the “Holidays” directory, but I recommend that after 2-3 months move the “Holidays” directory from the “Auxiliary” to the “Archive”.
Way to use Colourful Categories
To mark the final versions of documents and emails containing important papers, I recommend using the Outlook or the Gmail. Most email programs have a system of coloured mail tags.
- For each colour, assign the appropriate message (eg red colour – very important document, green – final version, orange – useful statistics, grey – important presentation, etc).
- By viewing the e-mails in a particular directory, we will find the document we are looking for better if we give it the right colour, especially since there are often several emails with the same title in the course of correspondence.
- Do not colour all emails, only those highlighted.
- Let’s remember that coloured labels or categories also allow you to search through the history of correspondence.
To avoid cluttering your inbox, I recommend that you should use the IT services of your company. It is worth to place catalogue at least 3.Archive on your computer’s hard drive, or on the shared storage of the company. I also recommend once every six months export the entire mailbox to an archive file and save it to an external drive or shared corporate server – just in case :).
As usual, my entry is really only the tip of the iceberg. You can not even signal all the valuable and interesting tips. For eager and more interested – a wider material will be in e-book (in preparation). If someone is interested in receiving it, please contact me directly or subscribe to my blog.