Taming your email inbox through TTP

A recent conversation I just had with someone went something like this:

Me: Hey my friend I am still waiting for your answer on the last email I sent you 3 days ago.
Friend: You sent me an email?
Me: I did. I put in the subject line, “Need your answer soon!”
Friend: I am so sorry my email box is so full I often lose track of what is in there or I accidentally delete emails I should have kept. Can you email me again?

Sound familiar? Some of us have had this conversation more often than we want to confess. Some of us reading this now were the ones who lost or didn’t respond to others email. Do we do this because we are ignoring people? Usually not, usually it is just due to email overload and not knowing how to get out from underneath it. I will share one method that you may want to try to see if it doesn’t help you tame that email inbox of yours.

Today, Tomorrow, Process
TTP is one system you may choose to start to tame the awful email inbox monster. The basics of it look something like this:

Create 3 folders labeled “Today”, “Tomorrow” and “Process”. Every email you receive you filter through these 3 folders. Ask yourself:
— Is this something that has to be done today?
— Is this something that could be taken care of tomorrow or within a day or so?
— Is this something that can be done later?

If an email task can be delegated for someone else to take care of then send it to them. Before you do though, add in subject line “Delegated”and due date. Then send and move the email to appropriate folder.

If email is something that does not need to be acted on, then delete it or archive it. I use my “Process” folder for emails that need no action but I want to read when I have time, like I get stats on my twitter, Facebook pages, newsletters etc.. I will set up rules/filters for many of these types of emails so that as they come in they will automatically get sent to my Process folder.

Now you can begin to take this new step toward beating the email monster.

Step One
Always ope your “tomorrow” folder first at the start of each new day. See if any of these emails need to be moved to the “today” folder.

Step Two
Now go to inbox and filter all emails through your new system of TTP. As you catch new newsletter subscriptions and the such in your inbox, make sure you keep adding them to your rules/filter so next time they will be caught for you.

Step Three
Open your “Today” folder and start working on them.

How often you work through your email will depend on your responsibilities. But don’t over-estimate the importance of going through your email too often. It is amazing how much we can cut down on checking email if we will allow ourselves to and no one seems to get hurt.

What system do you use if another one besides this?

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