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6 Strategies to Organize Overwhelming Email: Stem the Flood of Information

6 Strategies to Organize Overwhelming Email: Stem the Flood of Information

For many the issue of inbox overwhelm isn’t simply about being in an email heavy job, it’s very much about the deluge of incoming information. Newsletters, sales notices, marketing emails, jokes, social media updates, and updates from a variety of blogs and websites can make up a large portion of email piling up in your inbox daily. While these communications may often be necessary, desired even, they can all just get to be too much, when left unchecked. They will utterly take-over your inbox and completely overwhelm even the most organized and efficient among us. There are however, some simple steps we can take to combat this insidious dribble of incoming information. Simple yes; easy no. We humans are wired to seek information. We want to stay informed, in the loop, knowledgeable. We hate not keeping up with everything that’s going on around us. We might even go so far as to say that our insatiable curiosity has turned into an information addiction. Though many of us are still in denial about that…

Strategies to Stem the Flood and Clear Emails

  1. Cool it with the newsletters. Really. Only subscribe to newsletters if the information is truly valuable to you in some way. Useful, informative or entertaining is fine, but if you find yourself frequently skimming or deleting without even reading, it’s time to unsubscribe.
  2. Use an RSS reader. Instead of signing up for daily or weekly emails, subscribe to the site’s RSS feed (For example: Here’s Lifehack’s Feed) and use Google Reader or something similar to store and manage your information. Get it out of your inbox if you can!
  3. Be very selective when forwarding emails. Jokes, chain emails, video links, photos, and that sort of thing, but for the most part, it might be a better idea to post that kind of information on your Facebook wall. Everyone loves a cute pet or a good laugh; once in a while is fine, but not on a regular basis.
  4. Opt out of those sales alerts. If you need to buy something, you can search the internet for sales or discounts. If you don’t need it then you shouldn’t be wasting time getting alerts about it. It is a waste of your valuable time and inbox space and will probably save you money as well!
  5. Likewise, opt out of those marketing emails. Nearly every time you sign up on some website and give out your email, you are going to be placed on a mailing list. Unless you are waiting for some specific information from the website, uncheck that box during the sign-up process. If there wasn’t an option or you missed it, opt out or unsubscribe as soon as the marketing emails start showing up.
  6. Get it in digest format if possible. Instead of getting a notification every time someone posts on your LinkedInTwitter, or Facebook profile, opt for digest emails instead. Another option is to use an inbox filter to divert them to a separate folder, get text alerts, or turn off the notifications totally. You can always log in daily to look.

There are so many strategies we can use to organize email, weed out and trim down our email volume. With a little diligence, we can move a bit closer to an efficient, streamlined inbox that is a useful tool to share valuable information. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be for anyway?

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Featured photo credit:  Businessman with at signs flying from his hands via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives.

Learn from these highly successful people’s personal development skills, turn these skills into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

2. Keep certain days clear

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

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7. Don’t try to do too much

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew.

Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else.

This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then.

Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

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Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

If you find yourself easily distracted and can’t focus, this method will help you overcome distractions.

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14. Never stop

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it.

Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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