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Blog: Office Productivity
Organize Your Email In-Box so that it Always Stays Empty After Checking Messages

Is your email in-box as cluttered as your desktop in-box? I find that many clients have an email in-box that has unread or old messages from days past in it. If this is true for you, read the information below to find out how to avoid email clutter. Keeping your in-box empty is part of creating a productive work environment.

Letˇ¦s pretend that you just opened your email messages. Follow these steps and see if when you finish, it is empty and you have taken care of everything in it.

  • Create a system that you can follow every time you open your email. I usually start at the top of my messages and deal with each one before I move on to the next. Exceptions would be when you are waiting to hear from someone regarding an important message that will affect your tasks for the day. If you have another place to start and it works for you, keep using it.
  • Read the message. Decide what to do with it. Use the File-Act-Toss System„§ to manage the message. If it is something you need to keep, file it in a folder clearly labeled under the in-box folder on your computer. (I am talking about using Microsoft Outlook) Your folders might have titles like these:


Tele classes
To do
If you need to act on the message and that action can be taken in two minutes or less, deal with it then. If the action will take longer, file it in a folder that will identify the action such as: email, call, write a letter, etc. The file should also be under the inbox on the computer. If you have read the message and it doesnˇ¦t require further action and you donˇ¦t need to keep it, toss it (which means delete it from your computer).
  • Empty the deleted folder on your computer unless you keep any of those messages to refer to later. I usually keep one weekˇ¦s worth in the deleted folder because there have been occasions where I needed to go back to a message for reference.
  • Go through all the other folders under the inbox just to make sure you have handled each one.
  • Empty your spam and junk mail folders too.
Is your in-box empty now? If not, reread the above directions and try again.  These steps make take a while and lots of practice before you have achieved your goal. Remember, productivity is a process.

posted on: 8/1/2010 1:30:00 PM by Barbara Boone
category: Business

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Office Productivity

by Barbara Boone

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About Barbara:

Barbara Boone is the owner of Productivity Solutions located in Cockeysville, MD. She provides office organizing for small businesses and helps them to create and implement a productive environment so that they can be successful. Her focus is paper management and file set up to help clients reduce stress and increase productivity. She has been organizing in the fields of education and business for over 36 years. Barbara is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and Director of Professional Development for the Baltimore chapter of the National Association.

Barbara's Website:


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