Keeping our desks and computers free of clutter can sometimes feel like a full-time job of its own. When we let things build up, they have a tendency to spill over and become even more overwhelming, continuing the endless cycle of paper and electronic clutter.
So how to keep your inbox under control?
Here are 4 great organizing tips:
- Schedule time for a clean out. If your inbox is always full, this means that you have a lot of other things on your plate and haven’t had time to get organized. You will never get it under control until you make organizing a priority. Block out the time on your calendar, let your co-workers or family know, and silence your phone. Make sure you block out at least 4 hours – organizing always takes longer than we think!
- Separate Action and Reference. Once you have your inbox all tidy, set up a new system whereby paper that requires an action is SEPARATE from paper that simply needs to be filed. Setting up a “To File” area that is apart from your inbox will be a big help to keep you on top of paper and prevent your inbox from flooding in future.
- Create some new habits. Now that your inbox is empty, you will need to spend time every day maintaining it. If you are consistent in taking the time each day to clear off your desk, organize your paper and review your to-do list for the next day, you won’t have to perform any more mass organizing sessions. Just ten minutes a day – you can do it! Consider adding a notification on your phone or setting an alarm.
- 5 Minute Rule. If a task takes less than five minutes, do it right away. It’s ok to leave longer projects in your inbox to work on later but if you know that you can take care of it in five minutes or less, save yourself time and energy by scratching it off your list right now. You’ll get an instant hit of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers, in turn helping to keep you motivated and build momentum in your work!
We hope these tips help you to keep your inbox clutter-free. We’d love to hear about your personal tips for keeping your inbox under control – please comment below!
Cindi Ewing says
I heard your program on Smead and it was very helpful! Thank you
Thank you Cynthia! We’re so glad you found it helpful.