How many messages do you have in your inbox? 100? 500? 1,000?
Having a cluttered inbox is similar to a pile of papers on a desk. You may miss or lose an important message or task because it is buried amongst a few hundred emails. Dealing with email clutter can be stressful, but it can be done.
Here are five tips to manage your email in order to to bring your inbox to a manageable place:
Recognize that unwanted emails are a source of your digital clutter and take action to keep them out. Just like junk mail, you can unsubscribe from newsletters, advertisements, and catalogs. I recommend using a mass unsubscribe tool such as Unsubscriber from Other Inbox. When installed, it will create a folder for you to drop any emails that you no longer wish to receive and automatically unsubscribe for you. And it’s free!
If you are dealing with a backlog of emails, dedicate 30 minutes each day to deleting the unwanted emails starting with the oldest ones first. After you delete the unwanted items, you will most likely be left with emails of some importance that need to be filed away. Creating folders is the easiest way to store and reference your data. See number five for details.
3. Curb Notifications
Turn off email notifications for social media sites. These emails are only adding to your digital clutter. You will get the updates you need when you check your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn pages.
4. Rethink your Inbox
Many people tend to use their email inbox as a visual “to-do” list. In other words, if an email is still sitting in your inbox then it is something you need to do. When it’s done, you delete or file the email away. This system works for some folks, but for those who receive more than 100 emails per day it can be difficult to see what needs to get done and what is a priority. Creating folders may be a better solution for you, see number five.
Consider creating folders to help prioritize and categorize all of your emails. The folders can be labeled by action, (follow-up, call, weekly tasks, etc.), subject (child’s name, group name, sport, etc.), project (fundraiser, musical, auction, etc.), date or a combination. Once you’ve created your folders, you can read the email and then move it to the appropriate folder. This will keep your inbox clear and still allow you to keep the information on hand.
Incorporating email organizational skills into your life can be daunting, but once they are firmly established you will be more productive.