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How to empty your inbox (and keep it empty)

Julie Larson-Green, formerly of Microsoft, has joined Qualtrics.
Julie Larson-Green, formerly of Microsoft, has joined Qualtrics.
Julie Larson-Green, formerly of Microsoft, has joined Qualtrics. Photograph by Brian Smale

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you manage email overload? is written by Julie Larson-Green, CXO of applications and services group at Microsoft.

Managing your email requires discipline and keeping the process simple is critical to actually using it efficiently. In fact, part of what I study at Microsoft is how different forms of digital communication are helpful in the workplace, including email. Here’s how I breakdown my inbox:

Emails sent directly to me: I respond using a last-in, first-out method. I also separate my private email so that my personal conversations don’t get lost in the slew of work email I get every day.

Emails sent to several people: I review these messages and determine whether I need to respond directly or take action. Often there’s someone on my team who is the best person to respond. In those cases, I forward the email or reply with a quick note.

Emails I’m cc’d on: If I’m not addressed directly, I consider the message to be for information only. I read them and immediately file or delete.

Emails that are irrelevant: I usually delate these emails right away, so that they don’t accumulate and clutter my inbox.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How do you manage email overload?

Hate email? Here’s 5 ways to deal by Sheri Hickok, chief engineer of Next Generation Full Size Trucks at General Motors.

How to manage your inbox (before it manages you) by Camille Preston, founder of AIM Leadership.

Ivanka Trump: 5 tips for managing email overload by Ivanka Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization.