If you are looking for more time in your day, then look no further than today’s article. One of the most important gifts you can give to yourself is the gift of learning how to manage your inbox.  It’s a time-saver….

In-box Stress

You know what “in-box stress” is, don’t you?  It’s that horrid feeling you have when you turn on your computer in the morning and groan at your overloaded in-box. 

Email Overwhelm

Back in the ‘old days’ all we had to manage was the telephones and the post.  These days we have email as well.  If you’re one of those people struggling to cope with the deluge you get sent each day, you’re not alone.   We all get way more e-mail than we can fully act on. The in-box gets bigger and bigger and rapidly spins out of control leading to email overwhelm and stress.

Letting The Inbox Rule Us

The real problem is not with reading email but rather with doing the tasks that come from the email.  Having to take action on each email eats a massive chunk of our day.   If you’re anything like most people, then you don’t have a natural way to prioritize your reactions to your email.  Instead you just try and do it all there and then – acting on each email as it comes in.  Not only can we not keep up that way, but all our important work does not even get done – we end up prioritizing the email over everything else – simply because we are letting our inbox rule us.

Taking Charge of The Inbox

Simple! Don’t read the messages as they come in.  Read them periodically, no more than every hour or so. Or perhaps even just once or twice a day.  Research shows that it takes several minutes to recover from each work interruption, and that’s what scattered email reading leads to.  Now for a big tip, turn off the email notifications!  That way you stop jumping each time a new email pings in.

The next step is this: don’t take significant actions on emails when you first read them – unless they are truly urgent. Instead, put those actions on your to-do list.

As you read through your batch of emails, task each one that needs action onto your to-do list.  Prioritize them as you would any other task.  This way you treat your email no more or no less importantly than the other tasks in your day.  I suggest writing your task list first, then checking your in-box, adding your email tasks to the list and then prioritising the entire list. That way your e-mail doesn’t rule you – you rule your email.

The End of In-box Stress

Converting emails to tasks is a powerful practice.  It gifts you time  – as you are not bogged down doing e-mail actions prematurely, you’ll get through your email much faster.  Conversion to tasks also stops email from completely hijacking your workday!

Before you were answering emails and taking action just because it was at the top of your in-box.  Now you’re putting the email action onto your single task-list and working from your priorities. As a result, the most important tasks get completed first, rather than the other way round….

Converting emails to tasks takes away the stress from managing your inbox. As the email tasks are now on one list, this means you can empty your in-box easily.  Your task-list holds all your actions so you can empty and file the inbox daily.

The freedom of an empty inbox is such a relief.  It takes away stress and gives you more time to get on with your important tasks.  Why don’t you make a start right now into tasking your email actions onto your to-do list and enjoy the extra time it gives you…..

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