16 Email Organization Tips for the Workplace

Updated June 24, 2022

Emails are a communication method many companies use to provide important information, make announcements and assign tasks. Full inboxes can take time to read and sort through. You should organize your inbox to help reduce clutter and easily locate important information. In this article, we explain what email organization is and share tips to help you maintain an effective email organization process.

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What is email organization and why is it important?

Email organization involves sorting through your inbox as you prioritize certain messages and clear any unimportant emails. This helps you get rid of clutter, find messages more easily and respond to emails more quickly. Practicing proper email organization techniques can increase your productivity and efficiency levels in the workplace. Knowing that your email is sorted and organized can also relieve any workplace stress you're feeling due to an excess of emails sitting in your inbox.

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Tips for effective email organization

Follow these tips below to implement an efficient email organization system in the workplace:

Move emails into labeled folders

Save yourself time combing through your inbox to find a specific email by placing each one into a labeled folder. If an email has important information that you may need to reference later, move it to a certain folder to easily locate it. Go through your inbox and start creating folders to sort emails into. For instance, one of your folders could be labeled, "Projects." You can then create sub-folders for each project you work on and receive emails for.

Categorize each email

Categorizing your emails helps you better understand which ones are urgent and which you can read and respond to later. Some email systems let you color-code each message to identify the importance of each one. You can build your own color-coding system to quickly view messages and know their urgency status.

Delete emails that are no longer relevant

It's important to set aside some time to review your emails and decide whether to keep them. Delete irrelevant emails to avoid clutter forming in your inbox. Take your time deciding to delete an email. Carefully determine if it contains information you may need to reference later on. This helps you avoid accidentally ridding your inbox of emails with important information.

Schedule time each week to organize your emails

If you receive a lot of emails throughout the workday, it can take time to sort through and organize them all. It's best to set aside a certain amount of time each week to review unread emails and move outstanding messages to their specific folders. Scheduling time for this allows you to remove the clutter from your inbox without feeling rushed or behind.

Related: How To Organize Your Gmail Inbox

Respond right away

If you receive a message that requests an answer to a question or a simple response, reply to the email as soon as it enters your inbox. This way, you can quickly respond to the email, move it to its respective folder or archive it and move on to your other tasks. This reduces the stress of knowing these messages are still sitting in your inbox and require a response.

Related: How To Write a Professional Email

Convert the email to a task

Some email software systems allow you to mark an email as a task. For instance, if your supervisor emails you asking you to research new business communication systems for employees to use, you can set the email as a task and create a deadline for it. This helps you remember to complete this task and provides a place for you to reference the message for additional context about the assignment. Some task features also allow you to add notes to yourself regarding the assignment for you to save and review later.

Create rules to automatically file or archive certain emails

Many email platforms let you build rules for certain emails. You can create rules to automatically sort items into a specific folder or even to automatically delete messages from specific senders. This helps streamline the process of repetitively moving certain emails over to different folders to view later. For instance, if you regularly receive important messages from your supervisor, you can create a rule to flag the messages with a follow-up reminder for yourself or to automatically mark the messages as important.

Use shortcuts to quickly respond to and sort through emails

To quickly find information and reply to others, use keyboard shortcuts. The shortcut commands may vary depending on the type of email software your business uses. Specific shortcuts may also depend on the computer you're using to respond to emails. Research frequently used shortcuts for the email software and the computer you're using to find common shortcuts and simplify your emailing process.

Build email templates to send similar messages

If you regularly send similar messages to clients or employees, build email templates that you can easily locate, copy, paste, edit and send. Your email template can contain basic information you commonly send to recipients with placeholders for you to easily input their name, dates, times and other additional information you want included. This saves you time from constantly rewriting and sending similar messages.

Related: Top Job Email Templates to Use (And How To Create One)

Save and reuse your commonly use words

Some email platforms allow you to store words, phrases and sentences you commonly use in emails. You can store a certain phrase and label it to help you easily find it later on. When you're ready to insert a phrase, find and click on its label and it will automatically insert into your message. For example, if you regularly send press releases to media outlets, you can quickly insert your business' boilerplate and send it to them.

Sort your contacts into groups

If you work in a department or are assigned a project with a group of employees, sort them into a contact group. Simply click on this contact group and send them an email regarding your project or any other team announcements. This saves you time from typing in each recipient's email address individually.

Make deadlines using your inbox

If you're assigned many tasks over email, you can use your email system to remind yourself to complete them. Create folders to tell you when you should finish a task or reply to an email. You can label one folder "Complete by X day" and another "Respond by X day." Each day you can visit these folders and complete one task or respond to one email to help you efficiently finish these outstanding items.

Unsubscribe from emails you rarely read

There may be newsletters or campaigns you're signed up for that you rarely read or are no longer interested in. If you find yourself deleting or archiving these emails constantly, consider unsubscribing from them. This helps prevent clutter from forming in your inbox and saves you time from consistently deleting each one.

Practice the one-minute rule when you reply

The one-minute rule entails only taking one minute or less to respond to an email if it requires a simple answer. If the email requests a complex and detailed response, take your time typing out a reply. If you only need to give a quick response, type out your answer using a sentence or two, reread to ensure it makes sense and is free of any grammatical or spelling errors, then send it. This saves you time and energy from overthinking and typing an unnecessarily long response.

Set a time limit for how long to spend in your inbox

Similar to taking a certain amount of time to respond to an email, set a time limit for how long to read messages in your inbox. If you're on a limited schedule for work, try to avoid spending too much time reading longer messages. Instead, quickly scan through an email, determine how important it is and move along to the next one if it isn't relevant. You can also mark certain emails to read later when you have more time available.

Set a time limit each day to read through emails and stick with it. When your time is up, remind yourself where you left off and return to that place the next day.

Refrain from replying to all your emails

In most cases, if an email doesn't ask for a response, you usually don't need to provide one. If you refrain from responding to each email, you'll save yourself time and effort as you focus on more critical tasks.

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