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4 Tips to Declutter your Inbox

An inbox that is overflowing with actions, urgent calls for responses, stuff to read can make you feel stressed, drained and overwhelmed. An empty inbox offers the opposite… a sense of calm which in turn allows you to think clearly and creatively.

To help you achieve ‘Inbox Zen’, here are 4 tips to declutter your inbox.

1. Use Rules or Filters

Instead of having all your emails sitting in your inbox, have your email system automatically move each email to relevant folder.  This is particularly great for emails that are more for reading or research (such as newsletters).  If you’re using Outlook or Mac Mail, this feature is known as rules.  If you’re working out of Gmail, then it’s called filters.

Here’s how I’m using this feature in Outlook… I have created folders for all our clients and every time an email from a client lands in my inbox, it is automatically moved to their client folder.  This allows me to focus my attention on the particular task at hand, and stops me for looking at what has come into my inbox.  I’m no longer distracted by incoming email.

2. Delete, Forward, Act and File

I try to apply the ‘paper across the desk’ rule – throw it away, delegate, act on it or file it.  Therefore, allocate a certain amount of time each morning, lunch time and afternoon to check emails.  When you do, read and delete it.  If you need to forward it, do so at that time or if it needs your attention right there, act on it.  If you don’t need to act immediately file it for future action or reference.

If you don’t do this already, it will be a new approach to managing your emails and I suggest that you allocate yourself a specific time for each email check.  If you don’t get many emails overnight, allocate 10 mins each morning and then 15 mins midday and afternoon.  What you don’t get to, you deal with at the next email check.

3. Dump the Junk

If you’re receiving newsletters in your inbox, you may be receiving ones that are no longer relevant.  Instead of deleting them, take the time to actually unsubscribe.  All newsletter type emails should have an ‘unsubscribe’ option at the end.  If you want to keep the newsletters, use point number 1, create a rule or filter to move them automatically to a ‘Newsletter’ folder.  Or, as an alternative, create a free email (in Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail etc) and redirect them to your ‘newsletter’ email address.

As an example your newsletter email could be as simple as nicole-graham-news@.

4. No Personal Emails

The emails that come into my email system are all work related.  I have a personal gmail account for friends and family.  I also have a gmail account for newsletters only (as mentioned above).  Yes, I’m managing 3 emails however, it means that I’m not overwhelmed during the day by emails that are not relevant to the work I’m doing at that moment in time.

If a family member or friend needs to touch base with me urgently, I have no doubt they’ll call me, otherwise I check my personal emails every couple of days.  My newsletter email I check once a week or if I’m busy, every fortnight.

There is a discipline to each of these approaches mentioned and as with any change in habit, repetition is the key.  You need to be conscious about what you’re doing rather than relying on ‘autopilot’.

Do you have a great tip?

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There are many ways we can assist you with your business administration or marketing needs. Feel free to schedule a call with Nicole and explore how we can support you.

Written by: Nicole Graham


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Established in 2007, Bauhinia Solutions is a boutique virtual business support agency with a team of dedicated and experienced business specialists, administrators, and virtual assistants.