There are two major things you can implement once you are receiving more emails than you care to that will help organize and manage all your incoming emails. Finding a way to organize your emails will save you time reading as you can better focus when you read your emails, as well as saving you time locating information from existing emails. The first thing you can do to organize your emails is to create folders within your Inbox to move emails into grouping them together. The process of creating email folders is similar to creating folders to organize regular files as discussed in our Organizational Tip #3 - Organizing Files and Folders post. The most important thing to do before creating email folders is to decide how you can best break out your emails into groups. Choosing a method strategically will ensure you do not get stuck reorganizing again, leaving you with the chore of moving large amounts of emails from one folder to another. Listed below are some examples of how emails could be grouped, but keep in mind, only you know the best way to group your emails:
- By Sender - use to create folders based on the people who sent them. This method is useful when you receive the majority of your emails from specific people like a boss and staff you oversee, or perhaps your friends. If you have a business that deals with many clients, you may want to create a folder for each client.
- By Subject - used to create folders based on the focus of the email rather than by the sender. This method is handy when you often receive emails about the same subject from many different people. For example, you might create an IT folder to organize emails from software companies and items from the IT department. A teacher might create a folder for each class they teach. Another example would be to create an Insurance folder to organize all emails discussing insurance as well as copies of insurance policies. Other examples of subject folders are: Policies, Communications, Notes, Marketing, and Research.
- By Project - use to create folders based on topics rather than by sender or subject. This method is effective when your work or personal life is project based. For instance, if you were an artist, you could organize emails into folders related to works you were creating, a book being written, or notes for potential songs. If you worked in a business office, you might create folders based on state reporting and regulations, federal reporting and regulations, payroll forms, employee forms, forms for new hires, required employee posted forms, and employer policies.
- Follow Up - Keep emails here that need to be followed up on so they do not sit in your Inbox as a distraction every time you look at your email while preventing them from getting lost in the mix of all the other things you need to do. The key to this strategy is to check back in with your Follow Up folder at least once a week.
- Orders - Place all order and shipping confirmation emails into this folder to make it easy to follow up on when orders should arrive without cluttering up your Inbox. Additionally, having all orders in one place makes it quicker to reorder items.
- MISC - No matter how many folders you create, it seems there are always a few emails that do not seem to belong to any of them. Creating a MISC folder gives you a place to put these random emails rather than leaving them in your Inbox. Also, putting these emails in the folder that is closest to being appropriate will only ensure you will waste too much time later trying to remember which folder made sense at the time.
- Saved - This is the perfect folder for emails you never want to delete. Some examples of these would be how-to emails you know you will need to access again, emails with multi-user software license keys, account setup email confirmations, notes for common job tasks, and answers to important questions from other departments to name a few.