The inbox from hell is a recurring nightmare journalists are all too familiar with, but it is an especially rude awakening when getting back to work after a relaxing holiday vacation. Managing a seemingly nonstop barrage of emails is one of the reasons why many of us can’t stay off of our phones, work longer hours, or even forgo taking a vacation at all.
To prepare everyone for the holiday travel season, I consulted Alexis Steponanko, former executive assistant to the CEO of PR Newswire and a productivity guru in her own right, who shared a few simple tips for organizing your email inbox to save you both time and stress when returning from the holidays:
- Trim the fat. Immediately delete the clutter you notice at first glance before digging for the most relevant emails.
- File emails by person. Create a “People” folder and then additional subfolders named after the individuals you correspond with on a regular basis.
- File emails by topic. Create a general “Topics” folder and then micro-organize into subfolders the subjects you regularly discuss (for example: article pitches, editor’s notes, etc.)
- Set up automatic rules. Explore your email settings to create a rule that will automatically move incoming emails by sender or keywords into its corresponding folder. This can be helpful for items that aren’t spam but not something you need to see every day, such as promotional emails. Or, if you are expecting responses to a call for experts from ProfNet, include a keyword you would like the sender to use in the subject line so that your filters can organize it.
- Prioritize your responses. Think of your emails as a “to-do” list and tackle items based on deadlines, group emails of the same subject and anything marked as urgent.
- Jot down notes throughout the day. For tasks that might not take first priority but shouldn’t slip through the cracks, jot them down with pen and paper to help you remember to get back to them while also separating those tasks from looming digital clutter.
- Use your ProfNet Inbox. Those deadlines will creep up faster than you know it once you’re back in the office. So if email clutter is a problem for you, use the “cloaking” option for your email address so that responses from experts to your queries are immediately archived to your ProfNet Inbox online – which is one less thing to have to worry about organizing!
Hopefully these simple tips will make the holiday season a bit more enjoyable. As you prepare to leave for vacation, consider getting a head start on finding sources for your upcoming assignments by submitting a free query to ProfNet: prn.to/1NoOoAn
Have any other good email organization tips or general life hacks? Leave a comment below!