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Save your inbox

organization planning time Aug 01, 2018

Since becoming a mother in April I’ve had to squeeze the absolute most out of every minute so that I can maximize the time I get to spend with my daughter and also still do my job. This has led me to think outside the box in both my work and personal life in finding new ways to save time. This month we have the first part of a series of tips about doing more in less time: saving your inbox. I am a bit obsessive about keeping my inbox clean and organized, and I’ve found a few ways to do that with minimal effort.

Inbox organization: I use my inbox as one of my to-do lists, keeping emails as reminders of what I need to do. I let Google help me organize my inbox into sections to make this easier. 1) I keep unread messages at the top as the first things I need to tackle. If I read an email and need to respond later I mark it as unread afterwards because then I know it still needs a response. 2) Next I have important emails that I have responded to but haven’t fully resolved yet and are awaiting a response from someone else. 3) The last section is all other emails, these are things that don’t need action but I like to keep in my inbox for future reference. 4) I also keep folders for all of my projects and pull emails into those folders as things are resolved so I can always go back and check later.
Filters: I subscribe to multiple newsletters, email blasts, and other regular emails. I have an automatic filter set up that funnels these into a folder (bypassing my inbox) so that I can read them when I have time (next month I’ll tell you how I find that time). This is a handy tool that can also be used for regular communication with a specific colleague or client. The key is not to forget to check that folder!
Forms and shared documents: Ever send out an email requesting information from a group of people and then have trouble sorting through all the responses? Using forms and shared documents allows you to collect this info systematically and have each person organize their own information for you. I use forms like Google forms and Doodles to collect scheduling info, preferences for meetings, and key input on events and programs. I use shared documents to gather feedback on ideas, messaging, and project outlines.
Messaging apps: Ever have a tiny question to ask someone and send a one sentence email, or an email with a subject line like “running late”? I use messaging apps like Gchat and Slack with clients and colleagues to keep in contact but not fill up our inboxes. Slack also has other great functionality like channels for specific projects and teams, and integration with other things like Dropbox, Google docs, and more.

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