Too many emails in your inbox?
Too many emails in your inbox? Image: El Nariz/Shutterstock

How to stay on top of your inbox without getting distracted

30 Jun 2017

How many unread emails do you have in your inbox right now?

What’s your email personality like? Are you one of those carefree employees with 4,536 unread emails in your inbox? Or are you someone that must read and file or delete every email straight away?

There’s no doubt that email has made our lives easier when it comes to communicating in work. However, sometimes our inbox can be as much of an enemy as it is a friend, particularly when it comes to distracting us from work.

Future Human

Some people have to close their email altogether for blocks of time in the day just to power through certain projects. Others happily ignore the constant notifications, letting them roll in while they work away.

The truth is, sometimes neither of these methods are effective. The first might keep your inbox under control, but slow you down throughout your day. The second method could cause you to lose track of important notifications in a sea of junk mail.

So, what’s the alternative? It’s all about priorities.

First, you need a clean space to work with.

It may take a few hours (or a day) and you might want to bang your head against your desk at the thoughts of it. However, if you do it once in one big clear-out, you’ll feel so much better.

Block off some free time to go through every email. Delete, archive or file away each one as you go. Don’t leave any to come back to later, deal with each one straight away.

Once you have an inbox of zero, you can start prioritising the new ones in such a way that you can avoid distraction and stay on top of your daily tasks.

One major trick is to tackle any emails that can be dealt with in two minutes immediately. Any emails that take longer should be put in a folder marked for you to take action when you have more time.

The other thing you have to do is block time off once or twice a day to address the emails in that specific folder. This will keep you focused on your work, while still keeping your inbox organised.

For more tips on prioritising your email inbox and keeping it tidy, check out the infographic from NetCredit below.

Prioritise your inbox

Infographic: NetCredit

Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the deputy editor of Silicon Republic in 2020, having worked as the careers editor until June 2019. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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