How many emails do you have in your email inbox?
How many can you really read in this lifetime?!
Is your inbox stressing you out?
Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath and press the DELETE ALL button, declutter your inbox, and start over.
Cluttered, overloaded inboxes waste time and sacrifice productivity. Use these 7 simple ways to declutter your inbox and get time and space back quickly.
1. Set up Priority Inbox.
If you use Gmail, there’s a feature called Priority Inbox. Priority Inbox puts new emails in two different places within your inbox – one for those it considers important, and another for ones it considers unimportant, based on the sender and subject line. So, even though you might have 90+ new emails when you fire up your computer in the morning, you can immediately see the 12 that need your attention, rather than getting lost in a sea of “daily deal” offers and cat slideshows until lunch.
Check your email provider options and see if it has something like this.
2. Create filters.
Many email providers allow you to set up filters for certain types of emails. You can use these filters to do lots of things – apply a certain label to an email, delete it, send it immediately to a certain folder and more. For the emails that you get a lot of that aren’t urgent, set up filters for them to skip your inbox and go straight into a certain folder to look at later. Then, once a day, go into that folder and see what’s new. I use this for topics I research often and get great ideas to help my blog readers.
3. Create and name folders.
This is like using the auto-filter system, but you create the folder and then click and drag, or click and move the email to your specified folder.
4. Use Boomerang For Gmail.
Boomerang is a free plug-in for Firefox and Chrome with Gmail that allows you to do things like schedule an email to send in the future, bring an email back to your inbox at a certain time (like your flight itinerary the day before your trip) or return an email back to your inbox if you have not received a reply to it after X days. Rather than leaving an email in your inbox just to remind yourself to follow up on it or have it to easily access for later, use Boomerang to clear it out for now and have it come back when you actually need it.
5. Unsubscribe from 90 percent of the lists you’re on.
The 80/20 Rule says we only use or don’t use 80% of what we have. With email, it’s usually more like 90% that we really don’t read, and can’t, there’s only so much time. So, decide on the 10-20% that is important and focus on those.
While you probably just delete most of the unwanted emails every day — like snail-junk-mail that you keep recycling but don’t actually get off their mailing list — they clog your inbox, keep coming back, waste your time checking them off and then pushing delete, and make it hard for you to see the emails that actually matter. Time to unsubscribe.
Ways to unsubscribe:
a) If your email system will sort under the FROM column (Gmail will not unfortunately), click on FROM and they will line up A-Z. Find the ones you want to unsubscribe from and click open only one in that group. Find the unsubscribe link within it, usually at the bottom, click and complete. Then, go back into your email and delete all from that same sender. Done!
b) Or, for a span of about a week or so, every time you get an email you do not want to receive take the time to open it, scroll down, and unsubscribe from the list. It will require a little more time upfront but it will pay off in the long run when the number of emails you receive on a daily basis goes way, way down.
c) Use the Swizzle. You can also use a service like the Swizzle to help you unsubscribe from a ton of lists all at once or to opt to receive daily digests from certain lists instead of individual emails.
d) Try JustDelete.me.
6. Use your calendar rather than your inbox.
People often leave emails in their inbox to remind them to do something – to make a call, start a project, or to follow up with someone. Instead of taking up valuable inbox space with emails you have already read, schedule these to-dos in your calendar to remind yourself. If you’ve been meaning to call to make an appointment somewhere but the place doesn’t open until Tuesday, create an event in your calendar for Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. as a reminder, rather than leaving the related email in your inbox (which you might not even see on Tuesday anyway because you have another dozen to 100 that came in since then and it’s just too overwhelming).
7. Delete them all and start over!
The co-founder of Twitter says that he has “email bankruptcy every 30 days.” He deletes all emails in his inbox and starts over. He said that he gets thousands of emails a month and doesn’t have an assistant or anyone to help, and wants to keep it that way and personal. So, he dumps them all and says, “If someone really wants to contact me, they’ll email me again, or, try Twitter!”
Like decluttering anything, when you finally do it, it really does feel great.
2 BONUS E-DECLUTTER IDEAS:
Make a self-imposed rule: Like material clutter, every time you opt into a new ezine, you have to unsubscribe from one.
Or, just like “you can’t buy anymore because there’s no room, no place to put more,” think of your inbox the same way. You can’t “bring any more home” unless you declutter first!
Personal Note: Of course, I hope you enjoy my newsletter enough to not delete it or unsubscribe! But, it’s okay if you do too, I understand. 🙂
Find more information on decluttering home and office/paper and more in my information packed ebook
Burn Your House Down! And 99 other ways to create an organized life.