Ditch the Distractions: A Simple Guide to Streamlining Your Email

Email is the primary mode of communication for businesses and organizations. In fact, a recent study showed there were an estimated 306.4 billion emails were sent and received per day in 2020. The sheer volume of electronic messages we receive on a daily basis can quickly become overwhelming.  Without a an orignized approach to handling these messages, these communications can quickly become a distraction. Thankfully, there are some simple and effective strategies to handle emails, allowing you to focus on what truly matters.

Leverage Email Applications

business woman looking at computer monitor and checking her email

28% of an employee’s workweek is spent reading, composing, or responding to emails. With all of the time spent managing these messages, it’s important to find a solid application that fits your needs.  Email client applications allow you to manage emails, tasks, calendars and more with efficiency.  The most commonly used one is Microsoft Outlook, but there are several options out there.  Embracing the power of their built-in features and productivity tools can significantly improve workflow.

  • Explore new functions like Quick Steps that provide a convenient way to automate repetitive tasks with just a single click. 
  • Utilize the ‘archive’ feature keeps your inbox clutter-free while preserving them for future reference. 
  • Priority inbox automatically highlights messages that require immediate attention, helping you to focus on what’s most important first. 
  • Integrating with calendar apps can streamline scheduling. 
  • Task managers facilitate a seamless transition from emails to actionable items. 

When implemented well, email applications optimize your workflow and pave the way for a more organized and productive work environment.

Unsubscribe for better focus

Over time, it’s easy to accumulate subscriptions to various newsletters and promotional emails. While they may have once held value, over time, they begin to clutter your digital workspace. This excess baggage can significantly hinder your ability to focus on what’s most important.


Take control of your inbox by deciding which communications are truly beneficial to your current professional life. Ask yourself, does this newsletter offer actionable insights or critical updates? If the answer is no, it’s time to let go.


The process of unsubscribing is a strategic move and typically easy to do. Many emails come with an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the message. Clicking this link should lead you through a straightforward process to remove yourself from the mailing list.


By proactively managing your subscriptions, you declutter your virtual environment and prioritize your most critical communications. 

Identify and Categorize Your Incoming Emails

hands holding smart phone over laptop keyboard while checking email.

An average person sends and receives 121 business emails per day. Navigating through inbox mayhem without a strategic approach leads to an inbox full of clutter.  A solid plan for organizing these messages helps keep your priorities in place. 

Determine the types of email you receive

First things first, begin by evaluating the types of messages you receive. Not all communications demand the same level of attention or priority. Some will need immediate responses, some will need a project, and some can be ready later.  After reading through your inbox, determine the categories that will help you easily discern the level of urgency in the response. As an example, emails from your customers would be more important than email newsletters. Parsing out these types of communications, sets the foundation for a more organized inbox. 

Create folders for effective email management

Now that you have your categories, it’s time to create specific folders or labels that reflect these categories. For instance, labels such as “Immediate Action”, “Read Later”, and “Project Updates” can transform a chaotic inbox into a well-organized dashboard, where every email has its place.  Once you have picked those priorities, create folders that reflect what you decided.

Remember, the goal is to ensure that your email system works for you, not against you. As you start to sort your emails into these newly created categories, you may find that some adjustments are necessary. It’s perfectly fine to refine your categories as you go, adding or removing labels to better suit your workflow. With your emails neatly categorized, the path to enhanced efficiency and focus is clear.

Automate sorting using email rules and filters

Imagine a world where emails sort themselves, categorizing into “Urgent”, “Read Later”, or even “Client Queries” without requiring your manual intervention. That is precisely what happens when you use filters and rules in your email client.

If you’re using Microsoft Outlook, rules and filters are easy to create.   

  • With Outlook open, choose tools from the menu bar at the top of your screen.
  • From that drop down menu, choose rules.
  • When the popup window comes up, click on add a rule.
  • Next, you’ll name your rule, then add a condition for the rule. An example would be if an email specific words in the title or comes from a specific person.
  • When your conditions are set, define what should happen. For example, send to one of your created folders, automatically delete, etc.
  • As you become comfortable with basic filters, explore more complex rules to further tailor your email experience to your workflow needs.


Once configured, these automations work in the background, ensuring that each email lands in its designated spot. Not only does this keep your main inbox free of clutter,  it also makes finding specific emails when they’re needed a breeze.

Master the "Two-Minute Rule" for Immediate Responses

hands typing on a laptop keyboard with clock overlayed on the image.

Now that your messages are flowing and distractions are behind you, it’s time to embrace the “Two-Minute Rule” for email responses.  It’s a straightforward rule: if an email can be tackled in two minutes or less, attend to it right away. For emails that require a more detailed response or action beyond the two-minute threshold, mark them for follow-up and schedule a specific time to address them. Rather than letting them accumulate into a daunting backlog, you’ll visibly reduce your to do list efficiently. 


As simple as it sounds, the “Two-Minute Rule” is a powerful tool in your arsenal for email productivity. Using it sets the stage for a more organized, less cluttered inbox and, ultimately, a more productive workday.


Establish a Routine

A 2019 study showed that on average, professionals check their email 15 times per day. That’s once every 37 minutes!  This same study showed that most people do not expect a response in that time frame, so why are we checking it so much?   This constant state of checking your email makes it difficult to complete projects in a timely manner.  Instead of allowing the constant influx of messages to dictate your day’s pace, designating specific times throughout the day for email review can help you maximize efficiency. This could mean setting aside periods in the morning, after lunch, and before the end of the day, It could also be that you decide to check in at the top of the hour every two hours.  Whatever you decide, scheduling your email review allows you to intentionally focus on the project at hand without distraction. 

Reducing the urge to constantly check your inbox outside of these predetermined windows fosters a healthier work-life balance and improves your overall effectiveness.

Need help managing your email at work?

Whether it’s crafting a robust business email system, safeguarding your information against cyber threats, or empowering your team to identify and respond to phishing attempts, having expert IT support can make a significant difference for your organization.

At IT Enabled, we understand the challenges businesses face in optimizing their email applications and protecting their digital assets. Our team of experienced professionals provides tailored solutions that meet your specific needs.  We help you to streamline your workflow and enhance your cybersecurity posture. Discover how IT Enabled can be your partner in IT excellence.  Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.