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4 Key Principles to Great Inbox Management

As an assistant, you know how important it is to be on top of the inbox! If you have yet to create an ideal inbox organization system or want to improve your current setup, now is the time. We’ve outlined four principles below to help you better sort, organize, and maintain the many emails your leader receives. These principles can be applied to your own inbox, too! Great inbox management is possible for every EA – let’s make it happen for you.

The best inbox management tips for assistants

In the video below, EA Training Manager Sara Altuna shares her best strategies for an efficient, clean, and organized inbox. Click play to watch the full masterclass or keep reading to learn four principles of great inbox management.

Sara (she/her) is an EA Training Manager and Inbox Reset Consultant for Base. Later this month, she’s leading an Inbox Intensive, where she’ll demonstrate live how EAs like yourself can use proven methods to achieve inbox zero in just a few days. Seats are limited to ensure a small group setting. Sign up today

Four principles to better manage your leader’s inbox

The principles outlined by Sara will equip you with practical takeaways you can apply immediately to your leader’s inbox (or your own). In Sara’s words, “Great inbox management starts with shifts in behavior and mindset.” Ready to make the shift? Let’s go! 

Decrease noise in the inbox 🔉

Sara shares that “noise” in the inbox is what prevents your leader from seeing the emails that contain the actual work. To decrease the noise, she recommends cutting down what comes into the inbox to begin with. This can be accomplished by:

  • Automatically sending newsletters to their own folder
  • Taking the time to unsubscribe from spam emails
  • Identifying emails that are content-free (i.e. confirmation emails)

Sara encourages EAs to set some time aside with their leader to discuss which emails the leader wants to see in their inbox. This conversation may lead to even more great ideas for inbox management collaboration among you and your leader. Win-win!

Establish clear communication with defined roles 💬

Sometimes, a leader has a sentimental attachment to their inbox and is reluctant to let their EA take a peek inside. If that’s your situation, don’t worry! Sara recommends practicing the art of managing up and transparently sharing with your Exec why you want to manage their inbox. Be patient, though. It may take some time to reach a certain level of trust for your leader to give you access. Try these effective strategies to clearly communicate the benefits: 

  • Tie the inbox to your leader’s goals and priorities (i.e. your inbox may be slowing you down from moving important work forward)
  • Suggest a trial period, such as only unsubscribing them from spam.They’ll be amazed at how much cleaner the inbox feels and looks!
  • Start with managing a single folder. They’ll quickly see your value as you handle it with ease.

You may even create an inbox management plan together, where roles and responsibilities of their inbox are defined so there’s no confusion moving forward. Whatever challenge you may face with inbox management, rest assured that there’s always a way to overcome it! 

Introduce intentionality 🎯

By developing the mindset that an inbox is a task-list, you can open unread emails with intentionality, knowing you will take some sort of action – archive, organize, respond – and in turn, see a brighter, cleaner inbox every time you open it. Sounds great, right? Sara tells assistants to never open an email without doing something to it, even if the doing is marking it unread to come back to.

By working through your leader’s inbox with a purpose, you’ll help them prioritize the emails that need their attention first and eliminate those that distract.

Want to be even more intentional with your emails? Sign up for Base’s Inbox Intensive. In a small group setting, you’ll learn step-by-step how to cleanse, organize, automate, and maintain your leader’s inbox, freeing up more of your time for high-level work. Space is limited; secure your spot and take your inbox skills to the next level. 

Keep it simple 👌

The simpler you can make inbox management, the easier it will be to find what you’re looking for in an instant. Sara encourages EAs to make their Executives’ inboxes intuitive. For instance, when you file an email, you’ll know right away which folder it belongs to – no guessing involved. You can also use search terms in the search bar to quickly find emails by sender, date, or with attachments. With simplicity in mind, you’ll be an inbox management expert in no time!

Base: the modern solution for Executive Assistants

Looking for an all-in-one platform that’s designed exclusively for assistants? Meet Base.

Base combines the tools you use every day so you have one go-to place to organize, communicate, and take action. It’s everything you need to be an excellent assistant. Get a demo and start working more efficiently today!

Written by Christina Williams

Christina is Marketing Manager at Base, where she creates engaging content that is helpful to assistants and shares the Base story.