One really simple thing that stresses me out greatly is a cluttered email inbox, so I thought if any of you suffer from this minor life headache too, that you might find some of my favorite ways to declutter your inbox helpful. I hope you already use some of these so you’re not suffering silently as I used to be, but if not, now you can implement these quick and easy ways to declutter your inbox next time you check your email. Letting your email get unorganized, out of hand and piled up is one of the worst headaches to have, and it can make you miss important emails from important people too. Don’t let that happen with these tips, which automatically relieve your stress just by doing them. Good luck and enjoy!
1. Arrange by Date
Many email systems will try to arrange your emails by subject or sender automatically and alphabetically, but one of the best ways to declutter your inbox is to switch this setting to arrange your emails by date. That way, all of the latest emails appear at the top, helping you to see the newest ones first so you never miss an email. If it is set to “arrange by subject,” a new email starting with the subject letter “S” may appear at the bottom of your email list, making it hard to see. You can easily change this setting at the top of any inbox folder in whatever mail system you have.
2. Create Folders
Last month, I started getting lots of emails from readers at my blog, The Soulful Spoon, which I loved! Yet, I decided I never wanted to miss an email by accident, or forget to respond to readers, so I created a folder especially for my blog readers. This way, anytime I get an email from a reader, I can just drag and drop the email into the folder and keep everything in one spot. Just go to the left side of your inbox where your folders are located such as inbox, trash, junk or spam, etc. There you can click on “folders” and add a new one. Create as many as you like! I have folders for my blog, friends, family, bills and All Women Stalk, of course! This helps me see daily who I need to respond to, and which emails I need to prioritize responding to.
3. Tag with Flags
In each folder, and even in your main inbox, if you see an email that you know needs a response, special attention, or that you just want to be sure you don’t forget about, just flag it. It will visually stand out above the rest so you don’t forget about it later.
4. Delete What You Don’t Need
Reading through your emails, it can be easy to leave everything in there, thinking you’ll read it some time. I promise, you’ll rarely have time to do this everyday with every email that looks intriguing, especially if you get as many emails as I do. I get tons of emails from women's websites, magazines, blogs, etc. I always delete which ones I don’t need, and if need be, unsubscribe to senders that I regularly delete emails from. Some emails are definitely worth keeping around, but others, you’ll learn to realize that you won’t die if you don’t read them. Delete what you don’t need and move on with your day.
In attempting to delete what you don’t need, also be sure you prioritize what you do and don’t need. I try to keep a rule of letting no more than 15 or so emails sit in my main inbox, not including my folders, at a time. Doing this is challenging, but it does help you learn to prioritize what emails you want to keep around, and which ones are worth letting go. Decide what magic number is best for you and try to practice prioritizing it every single day.
6. Check Multiple Times per Day
Many people say checking your email everyday is unproductive, and that can be true. If you’re working and need to focus, try not to check it every hour. However, do try to check it multiple times per day so you don’t have to have one huge delete session where you might miss something. Give yourself a limit of 5 or 10 minutes to do this and then move on about your day. At the end of your day, your inbox will be so much cleaner, and you’ll be less stressed with less people to respond to.
7. Clean House Regularly
Regularly “clean house” in your inbox. This means deleting what you don’t need, going through your main inbox, filtering and flagging and arranging into folders. I take 5 minutes to do this three times a day, and it really helps keep my inbox clean so I don’t miss anything and don’t have tons of spam lingering in my folders either. It also helps me respond quickly to people that need my attention and delete emails I don’t need.
8. Use Bookmarks if Necessary
If something really stands out to you in an email but you don’t have time to read it and want to clear it from your inbox, then try to bookmark it in your browser if it includes internet-based information, such as links to a webpage. Click on whatever is in the email and bookmark it to your browser. Granted, you’ll have to regularly check your browser’s bookmarks so they don’t get out of hand, but your inbox can at least be clear. After you bookmark the information included in the email, delete the email from your inbox. The only thing I tend to bookmark are articles I’d like to read, blog posts I’d like to read, or contests I’d like to enter. Other than that I never bookmark random readings since I usually just forget about them.
9. Check Your Spam Folders Regularly
Another important tool to decluttering your inbox is to check your spam folders. Even senders that I never delete emails from, sometimes end up in my spam folder. If I didn’t check it regularly, not only would I miss it, but I wouldn’t be able to tell my spam box that the sender isn’t sending spam mail. Click on an email from a sender if you trust the sender and check “This is not spam,” or the equivalent of what your inbox provider’s spam settings allow you to change it to. Also, delete all your spam that truly is spam daily, so it doesn’t pile up where you might miss something.
Does a cluttered inbox give you as much of a headache as it does me? If you have a tip, please share it with me! I’m never too busy to learn a new organization trick or two!