In my opinion, there are two ingredients which should be added to a mailbox to maintain it lean and clean: PokaYoke and Minimalism. Here below I share my ideas to do so. Despite it may sound obvious and easy, yet I believe they are foundations of a well-organized mailbox.
PokaYoke (to prevent errors)
It happened that we missed responding to an important email, because it was lost in pile of other emails. Sometimes, these sort of mistakes have huge consequences. From time to time, finding a certain email takes a couple of seconds or couple of minuets more than it suppose to, which can noticeably waste our time in a long-term scale.
- Selecting an efficient service provider; Outlook Mail by Microsoft and iCloud Mail by Apple are my favorites.
- Creating folders and sub-folders; Even though it depends on needs of each individual, my suggestion is to create following main folders: Family – Friend – Education – Career – €/$ – Travel and Others. Create sub-folders if you receive numerous emails in each category. For example, if you receive many notification from your bank, create a sub-folder under €/$ with name of your bank.
- Creating Inbox Rules; Every received email must be sorted in one of the folders. Almost all service providers are offering tools to automatically sort emails, for example it´s possible to create a rule like this: if an email received from my university, move it into sub-folder “University” under main folder “Education”.
- Flagging important/urgent Emails; When is necessary, emails should be flagged to be easily spotted and get immediate attention.
- Customizing notifications; Some service providers make it available to customize the notification sound. It would be a great help if notification´s sound is customized for important senders.
Minimalism (to eliminate non-value adding)
“Keep things that are important and forget about the rest“, this is the message from minimalism. Here applies too. Emails can have value or not. An email without value is one which doesn’t provide any information of interest or is one which doesn’t really need to be kept for future reference.
- Delete, show no mercy; Those emails which don’t contain value for you, should be removed instantly. Use keyboard shortcuts to make it quicker.
- Unsubscribe, unsubscribe and unsubscribe; These are top three lessons of minimalism when it comes to electronic mails. Newsletter subscriptions should be kept as minimal as possible. Reading pointless newsletters which you are not really asked for is like watching ads in TV, both are absurd and absolute waste of time.
- Keeping the Inbox email-free; Often, we receive emails which are from new senders. There are three things we can do: assign them a rule to be sorted in one of the folders or delete them or unsubscribe from them. Keeping in mind, an empty Inbox is beautiful.
- Reducing email accounts to only one; It´s quite popular to have more than one email account. This demands extra log-ins, sorting and management. If you can’t technically have one single account, you may consider auto-forwarding emails from other accounts to main one.