Sort through your inbox with this simple process

A recent study showed that email alerts are "toxic" for stress levels

Sort through your inbox with this simple process

Image: Lauren Hurley / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Earlier this week, research showed that emails can be "toxic" for our stress levels. Just like sitting at a desk that is swamped with documents and to-do lists, having a messy digital space is bad for productivity. Putting simple systems in place can lighten the burden for a busy digital presence.

Regardless of what email provider you use or if it’s a work account rather than personal, it is possible to manage your emails efficiently. The key to this is the four “D’s”. This process was initially championed by David Allen, author of “Getting Things Done” but can be tailored to suit the needs of anyone. The four “Ds” are:

  •  Delete
  •  Delegate
  •  Defer
  •  Do

Delete

A small fraction of the emails that are sent and received are important. Don’t be afraid to “Ctrl D” after a quick scan. Sort the inbox by conversation and delete mails from the earlier part of the conversation.

Delegate

If an action by someone else is required, forward the mail onto someone else and then delete it. This conversation will be stored in sent items rather than clogging up the inbox.

Defer

When an action is required that will take some time or will need to be completed at a later date, copy the content into a cloud based calendar, set a reminder and delete the email.

Do

If an action is required and can be completed without too much effort, do it and then delete the email.

Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe too. If the majority of the emails that live in your recycle bin are newsletters or “special offers” set aside five minutes to unsubscribe from them all. Fans of Groupon and Deal Rush should check out MyDealPage.ie. This page pulls the offers from Groupon, GrabOne, Deal Rush and so on into one webpage, saving on multiple emails.