6 strategies for perfectionists who can never get a handle on their email inbox

I’ve been learning how to manage my inbox – and work – for the past couple of years now. I’m definitely still learning, and learning pretty actively.

Today I’m going to write down some strategies I’ve learned through my experience and a couple of different books, including The Organized Admin (Julie Perrinne) and The Happy Inbox (Maura Nevel Thomas):

strategy 1: use the TESST method

The TESST method is from Maura Nevel Thomas’s “The Happy Inbox” and stands for:

  • Take immediate action
  • Empower others and yourself
  • Suspend it to your task list
  • Store it for future reference
  • Trash it.

These are the 5 actions you can take with any email that comes into your ‘box. Choose one for each email and go with it.

strategy 2: maybe it’s not an email

Remember that there are many available communication channels, including chat, phone, in person, already-scheduled meetings, ability to schedule meetings, notes and more. Maybe it’s not an email.

strategy 3: let it go

You don’t need to read every email or save every email. I’m looking at you, people with 100 newsletters and daily digests. If you don’t need it today, delete it. If you don’t need it ever, unsubscribe. If you end up needing it for a legit reason in the future, you can always re-subscribe.

strategy 4: sorry, my email isn’t open

Your goal with your inbox is to get things out of it – in other words, to use your inbox as a processing center a certain number of times per day. NOT all day long. That’s counterproductive. Close the email tab. Trust me.

strategy 5: understand reciprocity & your vibes

If you reply to an email immediately, you’re sending the message that you can be reached immediately by email. Which means you’ll feel like you have to be glued to your email. Send the correct vibes.

strategy 6: it depends on the day.

If you’re having a busy day, delete more emails than you would on other day. If you’re having a slow day, spend longer with your emails. It depends on the day.

That’s what I’ve learned, normal (?) people. Please feel free to wear it out.

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