What Postal Mail Can Teach You About Managing Your Email Inbox

Do you have trouble managing your email inbox?What Postal Mail Can Teach You About Managing Your Email Inbox

Looking for a few effective email management tips that are easy to follow and make a whole lot of common sense?

In this post I share with you a few email inbox tips that will have you looking at your messages in a different way.

While postal mail may be on the decline, there are a few good lessons we can learn from the medium and apply to our modern, digital lifestyle.

Package your parcels with care

A poorly packaged postal envelope or parcel is a nightmare to deal with.

Ever try to remove a giant, thick stack of papers from a narrow and too small envelope?

Or cut your way through ten layers of packing tape on a box?

The same applies to a poorly written and organized email message.

Thanks to technology, you can put in a lot of information into your emails, making them extremely long, bulky and complex.

Remember, you’re not sending an email out into the dark void, you’re sending an email so someone else can read it.

Take care to write and construct your email messages. Review them throughly before sending for clarity, consistency, grammar and typos. If something isn’t clear, fix it. If you don’t have enough material for a full email, save yourself some typing and pick the phone for a quick conversation. Just because you can email information, doesn’t mean you have to.   

Limit the amount of time you check the mailbox

A letter carrier comes to your home, rings the doorbell, delivers the mail and leaves. You get up to check your mailbox, grab a bunch of letters, and sit back down at your desk. The exact same thing happens five minutes later. Then two minutes later, then three, then one minute later…

Does this story seem a bit silly? Unfortunately, this is the equivalent of checking your email all the time. Don’t fall prey to this highly unproductive and distracting cycle.

Set specific times in your day to check and process email, be it once in the morning and afternoon, two different times in the morning and once in the afternoon, whatever works for you and your schedule. You’ll be better able to focus and concentrate on your work, without any unnecessary distractions.

Empty your mailbox on a regular basis

You check and remove letters, magazines and catalogs from your postal mailbox each day. When you go away on vacation you have either a friend or a neighbor pick up the mail and hold it for you. Would you ever let your mail pile up outside of your home? Of course you wouldn’t! It helps to treat your email inbox in a similar manner. 

Make a point to clean things out on a regular basis, and take action just as you would with your real-world postal mailbox. No longer have a need for a particular message? Delete it. Finished with an email? File it away. Tired of receiving information? Unsubscribe from mailing lists.

To be perfectly clear, I’m not saying you must have an inbox with absolutely nothing in it (otherwise known as “inbox zero”), rather, the idea here is to process messages so you can actually manage what is of importance to you, in your inbox.

How about you? How do you view your email mailbox? Will you look at your inbox in a new way after reading this post? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.