You want to organize closets and cabinets, but you knew we were going to talk about organizing email at some point, right? There’s some very, very bad advice for organizing email still floating around, and I’d like to put a stop to it.
All of my executive coaching clients right now have a problem in common…they are all overwhelmed by email. They all have multiple emails, as many as six personal and one or two business email addresses.
Here’s the truth: email is not going away, and you don’t get a pass because you are too busy to read your email. But there are definitely ways to make email healthy again.
Bad Advice for Organizing Email
You’ve been getting bad advice about organizing email for years. Someone somewhere told you to give out your “junk” email address to people you don’t want to hear from, and you did it. But what did that create? Just another email address to check (or ignore), but every now and then something important gets “lost” over there. Or you forget why you are using certain emails, and over the years, the junk and the non-junk cross-pollinates. My client with 7 emails now has 7 email boxes to clean up because each of them has a little bit of important info. Yikes! That’s not a great plan.
You know what’s better than having a “junk” email address? Not having email accounts that you ignore, and not losing important information in disorganized email inboxes.
Organizing Email Advice
My advice to busy people (that’s you) is:
-Hook all of your email addresses up to the same email reading program so you only have to check one place. That can be the Apple email app, Outlook, Gmail, or wherever you check your main email right now.
-Mark spam emails as junk– instead of deleting– to help cut down on future junk.
-Ruthlessly unsubscribe from email lists that you don’t want to be on.
-Open all of your email.
That last one, open all of your email, gets a lot easier to do if junk and spam aren’t taking over your email box.
What do you do with old email addresses?
Stop using your AOL email as your primary email address. You don’t have to give it up, since you’ve had it since college, but you can stop using it as your primary address. It doesn’t have good spam and junk management. Over time, switch important accounts to your main email address.
You don’t have to cut over cold turkey, and you don’t have to delete old email addresses if you don’t want to. But please make sure that you aren’t paying for hotmail, AOL, Comcast, or any other email provider who now gives them for free.
If you need a new email account, you can get a free email account from Microsoft with either an outlook.com or hotmail.com ending. Why? Because outlook.com accounts are going to be around for a long time, and they have reasonably strong spam management. Yes, you can go with gmail if you prefer. What you gain in automation and spam management, you trade for privacy.
Good Advice for Organizing Email
Probably the best advice I’ve put into place in my own life is to stop checking email when I can’t act on it. If I’m walking into a meeting, it’s not the time to check email. Late at night, I can’t do my work, so why check? It’s only going to make me anxious and mess with my sleep. By only checking email when I can respond, even if only to say I’ll respond more fully later, I don’t get overloaded.
I hate to see you struggle with email every single day. Yes, there are times when even I get behind and don’t see all of my emails when I want to, but email isn’t going away, and you CAN learn how to organize email. If you need help, or you want to offer an email organizing class to your company or group, I’m just a tap away.