Clutter is emotionally draining and causes delays, frustration and stress. Facing a mess every day can make you feel irritable and tired before you begin the day. Experts estimate that we spend about 150 hours a year looking for misplaced information and items. That is about one full month of lost productivity.
Email clutter is just as draining as paper clutter. In fact, it may be more so since we spend so much of our time working with email. I am always astonished in my email and organization workshops when people confess to having hundreds of completed emails sitting around in their in-boxes like partygoers who refuse to leave.
Every time we have to pick through completed emails to find the ones we need to work on, we lose productivity—and more than productivity is lost. Our self-esteem suffers because all those completed emails represent an inability to get and stay organized.
In order to be organized, we need to clear out email clutter. Here are some tips I teach and use to take charge of email and stay clutter-free.
- Set up a new folder in your inbox and label it: Pre-[today’s date]. Move every completed email from your inbox into this folder. You can go through later. Meanwhile, complete emails are now out of your inbox proper.
- Now tackle unread/unfinished emails that are left in the inbox.
- Handle all incoming email starting now. This process lets you control your inbox and many people find they actually empty it by the end of the day.