I don’t know about you – but email can be very stressful! As you sit at your computer, trying to get things done, and more and more email comes in, your ‘to do’ list keeps getting bigger and bigger!

About two years ago I made the conscious decision to take back control of my email and not let it get me stressed out. I was really inspired by a presentation from Merlin Mann from 43 Folders that I heard from Real Estate Connect SF a while back. He promotes the concept of ‘Inbox Zero.’ I don’t think there will be a day for me where I achieve that fate – but there are few ‘rules’ I live by when it comes to email to keep in manageable.

Here are 5 things rules I live by to help me stay sane – and also help to keep my Inbox to 20-40 emails max at any one time.

1. Don’t have your email open all day long and turn off those “bings.” Email can be the most distracting thing. You are working on something and then “bing!” you have an email, and you get distracted. Make sure to take the “bings” off you phone too! I check my email probably every 15-20 minutes or so. I check it more often if I am waiting for something deadline driven but otherwise I don’t let it dictate my ‘to do’ list of that day. Or, if I am in the middle of a big project, I will put my out of office with a specific time that you are answering email that day. This makes it a little easier o

2. Work backwards. When you read email read your oldest messages 1st – your goal is to move fast – get through those emails that are a couple days old. Reply, delete or file – and then move on to today’s emails.

3. Deal with email once. It’s like ‘snail mail’ – don’t go to the mailbox, grab all your bills and junk and then leave it in a pile. Stand by the trash, throw out the junk – put the bills where they need to go and then move on.

When you get an email – don’t read it and then let it sit it your Inbox. Either delete it, reply and them delete, or reply and then file into a folder. Within your email, make sure you have your folders or labels set up. You can set them up by month, by project, by client name – whatever makes most sense to you and your business. If you are an agent – make a folder for each client. Every email you get – goes right in there and out of your Inbox.

4. End of the day – get your Inbox to your comfort level. What is your comfort level? Zero? 10? 20? 50? Whatever that is – the last 15 minutes of your work day, clean up your Inbox.

5. Don’t treat your email like a ‘to do’ list. I keep a running Word Doc called “working on” that I save to my desktop. As new email comes in, if it requires action on my part (more than a simple reply), I cut and paste any pertinent info from the email onto my list and then delete or file the email away. Otherwise your email box lies stagnant with all these emails you have read but have to take action on. What I like best about this method is that I group things by category on my ‘working on’ list. So for an agent, you could group things by: clients, prospects, marketing, and more. This has worked really well for me.

At the end of the day, I still battle with my email – but I try very hard to be smart and move fast through email!!

Do you have any tips you’d like to add? Would love your feedback, leave me a comment below! (but don’t email me HAHA!) :-) just kidding…

Written by: Katie Lance, Marketing Manager, Inman News

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