How To Make Email Stink A Little Less

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You open your inbox and groan.  All you see are dozens of emails, some from that Ham store, others from that parent you’ve avoided for the last week and a couple you are afraid to open because they might bite your nose off.  Answering work email is one of the most unattractive parts of any job; however, it’s something that needs to be done.  If you don’t check your email you will:
Miss Big Opportunities or Lose Someone’s Trust
Believe it or not, how you manage your email will affect how others will view your ministry.  By staying on top of your inbox not only will you Build Margin; but, show others that you are Responsible.  But some days our inbox looks like a garden overtaken by weeds.  Everything looks important or overwhelming, so how do you take control?
Eliminate The Junk:
Delete everything that is or would be considered spam.  Chances are you’ve subscribed (intentionally or not) to too many things.  Start off by unsubscribing to as much junk mail as you can.

Create 3 Folders Or Less
In Scott Belsky’s book, Making Ideas Happen he talks about creating folders labeled: Action Step, Back Burner and Reference.  In the:

  • Action Step Folder place all emails that need to be done immediately or in the next day or so.  This folder is something that should be checked daily.
  • Back Burner Folder place al emails that can you can’t answer now; however, might be able to down the line.  This folder should be checked monthly.
  • Reference Folder place all emails that may have an article, blog post, or any type of information that may aide towards a project.  This folder should be checked quarterly.

By creating these folders, you will organize what needs to be done into more manageable departments.

Once you’ve placed your emails into the right folders, prioritize them in the order in which they need to be done.  Keep in mind dates, because it’s a humbling experience to answer an email sent to you over a week ago.

Give Yourself A Limit:
If I ever find myself with more than 10 emails in my inbox, and each of my folders, I take the time to whittle it down.  For me 10 emails is a red flag that my inbox is getting cluttered and that I’m probably going to miss something big.

Emails hold a lot more power than we give them credit.  They can be filled with emotion and they can carry important pieces of communication, if ignored they can take over.  The goal is not to fear our inbox, but to have a healthy relationship.

How do you stay on top of emails?  Why is it difficult?