Managing the inbox chaos

I’ve recently started a full-time role in PR (yay!). One of the things that I didn’t realise might be as challenging, is managing inbox. I’ve never thought that I’d be getting 50-100 emails per day. Some of these messages are more important than others, but all of these should be, at least, read. Here’s what methods I use not to drown in the sea of emails.

#1 Folders and rules

On the day one, I’ve started setting up a lot of folders that would help me organise incoming messages. I would have a list of all the clients I work on and create relevant folders. I had even created a folder for the canteen emails (it has a glorious name “FOOD”). After creation of the folders, I set up rules. It’s an easy way to make all the emails go straight into selected folders, rather than going to the generic inbox. Now, once I’m getting a message that relates to one of the clients, it gets to the fitting folder. I’ve also made a few folders for the important emails that can’t get lost — administrative matters, important dates, etc.

#2 Treating inbox as a to-do list

I’ve got this one from Sam Howard. Sam once told me to treat my inbox just like my to-do list. When I get asked to do a media list and I’ve completed this task, I can delete the email with the briefing. If email is not relevant or there are no further actions needed, I delete or archive it straightaway. Thanks to this simple method, my inbox stays tidy and I always know what tasks I should be doing, without looking into my to-do list notepad.

#3 Turning off notifications

At the times, you need to stay focused. If you’re writing a by-line or you’re on the deadline with other task, email notifications can be a huge distraction. They can really disrupt your work. An easy tweak is to turn off your notifications of incoming mail, so you are constantly focused. Many operating systems allow you now to put your email to the ‘don’t disrupt’ mode. Use it accordingly.

#4 One minute rule

A while ago, I wrote about the simple way of getting small tasks done. One minute rule is about performing tasks straightaway, provided they won’t take more than one minute. This principle can be applied to your inbox, too. If you’ve got an email, for which constructing a response won’t take long, answer to it immediately. Then delete the email. This method will increase your efficiency, as these emails will get out of your way and won’t pile up.


Do visit MK next week for more inbox management tips, crowdsourced with the power of social media.

If you have any suggestions, would like to guest post or give me a feedback, feel free to email me at kl.marcel [at], tweet me @marcelkl or connect with me on LinkedIn. Thanks for stopping by, have a splendid day!