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Should you use your inbox as a to-do list?

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BFO-email To Do List

There are people that say you shouldn’t use your inbox as a to-do list. I tend to disagree. I see a tidy inbox as a Zen place. It feels good to delete those emails or file them away for safe-keeping.

In a world where “you better get that in an email” is prevalent, why not use that to our advantage? Otherwise, you may still “forget” or let something slip through your fingers. Instead, start the New Year off right and get organized!

Here are some ways that I use the inbox like a to-do list.

As emails come in, I read them (yes, all of them) and then mentally assign a priority based on how easy it is to respond to this and how urgent the mail is. If this is something that I can easily respond ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to and if there are no super urgent emails on my list, I’ll go ahead and respond. Then, I immediately file that email away to get it out of my inbox.

If there is an urgent email that needs attention right away, I usually start working on it immediately and if I can complete the request, I move it to its respective folder and out of the main inbox. If it is an email that will take some time to complete, I usually flag the message. That way, when it does move down my inbox, I can easily find it again or look in the “flagged” section. If you tend to receive a lot of emails and worry that important messages might move down your inbox quickly, get in the habit of checking your “flagged” folder at the end of every day. It’s an excellent way to ensure that all items have been taken care of.

I also use the calendar as well. If something will be important later in the year (for instance, 1 month from now), I like to copy the contents of that mail, go to my calendar and paste it into the details field for later viewing. That way, when I get a notification on my calendar for an event coming up, it serves as an instant reminder of something I may have otherwise forgotten.

One item that I hope you are noticing by now is that the main “inbox” area is the “workbench” or “desktop” of the task manager. Once requests have been completed or do not need to be monitored by stream, they are moved out of the mail “workbench” area and filed away.

There are times when I do keep something on the workbench for a while. If I need to monitor a stream closely or if I need to have that constant reminder that I need to respond to this as soon as I am able, I will keep those important flagged emails on the workbench for a while.

I hope these inbox and mail management tips help you in your everyday digital mailings! Check out the previous articles for more tips.

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