Is Your Email Inbox Out of Control?

Let me guess. Your days are consumed by meetings and way too many emails. Whenever you step away from your desk to attend a meeting, you return to find a large number of new emails sitting in your inbox.

Not only are you experiencing email overload, but a majority of the emails you receive don’t require any action on your part. You are either cc’d or the email is so vague that it ends up in the trash.

The Purpose of Email

There are two major reasons why we send emails. The first is to have a conversation and the second is to ask someone to complete a certain task. Some people will argue that the third is to request a meeting or communicate an agenda, but for the sake of this post, those items fall under calendar management (ex: agendas should go in a meeting request, not in an email).

In our experience, a majority of emails are sent to ask someone to do something. In some cases, one email might contain numerous requests to do something. These are really tasks.

We also see that many of the tasks that are outlined in an email fall into what we like to describe as the black email hole of death. These tasks, even if they’re important, get sucked into all the other emails that are received by a person over the course of a day. Because of this, tasks are often overlooked or forgotten. They get lost in email conversations and the recipient easily loses track of the task, its details, and when it’s expected to be delivered. The email overload is simply too much.

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How To Remove Tasks From Your Inbox

The biggest thing you can do to remove tasks from your inbox (and ultimately reduce the number of emails you receive) is to implement a project management tool. Give your team a method for submitting requests not only to you but to others in your organization. Take time to collect your basic needs (or requirements) before choosing a tool and outline directions that include your expectations for using the tool once it’s implemented. If your team needs anything from you, they should create a task in the project management tool and assign it to you along with a due date.

Although we do not endorse the use of a specific project management tool, we do endorse the importance of outlining your processes and needs before adopting any tool. Seeking business coaching services is a great way to get started on this activity if you’re not sure how to do this in-house.

Do you use a project management tool to assign, manage, and complete tasks? If so, which one are you using? Let us know in the comments below.