First, I think of my inbox as a “to-do” list. Thus, the only items I keep in my inbox are things that have an action item to be completed. Everything else gets deleted or filed away. Going through junk mail is quick and easy. Click all emails that you know are junk and delete. (If you are familiar with setting rules in your inbox, this will help direct them to another folder and you won’t have to see them in your inbox.)
When I log in to my email for the day, the first thing I do is delete any junk mail that I don’t want or need. Emails that have “sale” information that I would like to review, I leave them in my inbox as a “to-do”.
Years ago I learned to take a “power 15” with my desk. Having a busy email box will be additional stress and not allow you to focus and deal with urgent situations to the best of your ability.
I take 15 minutes and I answer every quick email that doesn’t require “leg work” to answer. I quickly go through items that need a simple acknowledgment and items that need an answer I know off the top of my head.
Perhaps you are feeling “How can I do that when my customer has indicated URGENT in the subject line?” Remember, you are going to address this, but not during your “power 15” routine. They are important however; you need to give them the time and focus when you have a clear head so they can be addressed appropriately.
During your “power 15” exercise, take the time to clear out what you can quick. Once your “power 15” is done, take the time now to go through and handle the bigger and more urgent requests.
Try this routine for a week. Then see if your emails feel less overwhelming to you. How many more emails did you handle before your workday ended?