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The Email Dilemma

July 25, 2013 / By

Not a day goes by that I don’t read an article complaining about email, or hear someone in the office whinging about the amount of emails in their inbox (often me). But at the end of the day I have to say that I am not in the camp of people trying to get rid of email or find alternatives.


There, I said it. This may be due to the generation I am of (Y, I think) or the fact that every job I have had since my days as a Coles checkout chick, has revolved around email. I have learnt to do the bulk of my communication via email, both business and personal, which means that I feel lost when I haven’t checked my email for over 8 hours – which generally only happens at night.

This all may seem crazy but I consider myself to be a pro at this ’email’ game. Going through my email data for the past year I found that I average over 150 emails received/sent per day (80% work & 20% personal). Is this a lot? I am not too sure but it means that I will have read or sent over 50,000 emails over the course of the last 12 months. I work on the Inbox Zero principle and as of the current time of writing have 0 outstanding items in my inbox and 0 flags.

So how the hell do I manage this? Here are some tips from years of swimming in an Olympic sized pool of emails:

After my morning shower and exercise routine (sometimes) the first thing I do is get on top of my inbox. Since the bulk of my email is business related I will walk you all through how I manage my work inbox:


I use Apple mail in which I have setup 7 flagged categories:

  • Online Sales
  • Development Projects
  • New Business
  • Software
  • Accounting
  • Agency
  • Business Admin

I use Evernote to store all my notes and goodies. This is also where I send all my blog subscriptions which I want to read later as well as any new products (APPS) or shopping/discount related emails.

I use Wunderlist for Task Management with our team.


So as I work through my morning Inbox, which typically contains 40-60 emails (we work across 3 different timezones), I take the following steps:

– If email is unwanted or SPAM then delete and block
– If email is a blog, product, deal or something not directly related to work I send to Evernote to be read later
– If email needs to be actioned by another member of the team I will delegate immediately
– If email is a completed task or does not require a response I file it to its relevant folder (I have over 100)
– If email is a task which needs to be completed today I LEAVE IT IN THE INBOX. This reminds me throughout the day that it needs actioning
– If email is a task that needs to be actioned in the future I move it into one of the 7 categories of flags

I tried using rules and filters but didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t see all the emails coming through. Being a bit of a control freak, as well as a quick reader, I like to speed read all emails that come through the inbox so that I can process what needs to be done with them.

So this is my little system which I have found to be incredibly effective in managing my personal life, multiple businesses, a team of 18 and over 60 clients worldwide. I definitely don’t think the system is perfect and would like to hear any suggestions on ways it can be improved or if I am missing any cool tools which can fit in with my approach.

Next week I will be blogging about email etiquette, because as you can image I have some fairly strong opinions on this topic.

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