Photo by Davide Baraldi on Unsplash

I'm a big fan of keeping things clean and simple and love finding ways that help me focus or be more productive.

And keeping my inbox as clean as possible is one of those. Making sure I focus on the right things and find them easily.

The Email Rule

The email rule that I have in Outlook is this one:

Whenever I'm CC'd in an email, the sender has decided for me that it's not a priority for me. Unless it's marked as 'High Importance'.

This is great because then I don't have to waste time reading an email that has low relevance to my current task(s).

Then when I have the time, I can read it.

If I want to respond, I can do so without the guilt that my response is late since they weren't expecting an answer from me.

My Rule of Thumb

For every email I receive, I ask myself "Does this need a response from me, or do I need the information in this week?"

If the answer is "No", I archive it.

If I need to answer it, I archive the email once I've responded.

If I get a response from my reply, I ask the above question again.

If I need the information in the email for my current task(s), I keep it in the inbox until I no longer need it.

If it's information that I will need later, for example, in two or three weeks, I archive it.

Then when I need it, I'll search for it. And if I need to keep that for a few days, I move it to the inbox folder and then archive it when it's no longer needed.

I'm Not a CEO

These rules are the foundation for my clean inbox and have served me well.

On the other hand I don't receive hundreds of emails per day. So that also helps to keep the inbox clean. 😅

Hope these rules will help you find rules to keep you focused and productive.


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