Get your inbox under control

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Ariel Kostrna

I absolutely love helping people grow! One of the best ways I can do that is by sharing things that I've found helpful, in any area of life.
Ariel Kostrna
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unread emailsHas your inbox ever looked like this poor cat’s? Hundreds or thousands of unread emails?

“Hold on,” you say in your defense, “I deal with all the important ones.”

So why even put up with the unimportant ones,then? Why have them taking up space in your inbox? Massive amounts of unread email don’t only take up virtual space in your mail system; they also create visual clutter that can increase stress levels.

Do you dream of a managed inbox? It’s not impossible! Here’s a few things you can try today to get your emails under control.

Utilizing Folders

Every email system out there offers the option to create folders other than your inbox. Junk and spam folders are only part of what I’m talking about here. Consider creating folders for each part of your work—perhaps a folder for each client or project. Not only does this make it easy to find a particular email when you need it in the future, but it greatly reduces the number of emails in your inbox.

I once worked with a woman who was so excellent at organizing her emails into folders that she never had more than 10 messages in her inbox! If you want to get really fancy, you can set up rules in Gmail so that emails from certain people will automatically go into certain folders.

Archiving

One of best things to do when it comes to organizing emails is to distinguish between actionable emails and non-actionable ones (which are often communication-type emails). If you’re fortunate enough to have a task management system that integrates with your email platform (we love that Asana does this!), you can create a task based on that email and then archive it. But either way, make sure to archive emails as you’re done with the actionable part of them.

If there’s a task you can deal with in another day, or week, consider using the free tool Boomerang. It will remove the email from your inbox until the date and time you specify.

Unsubscribing

Maybe this seems like a “duh!” to you, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t take the 10 seconds to unsubscribe from junk advertisements, or newsletters that are no longer relevant to them. This one isn’t a quick fix, but it’s a permanent fix. Go through your emails starting at the top and unsubscribe from every one that’s unread. Ruthlessly prune your subscriptions.

There is a free tool called Unroll.me that will supposedly mass unsubscribe for you.  I haven’t used so I can’t vouch for it, but it’s worth trying since it’s free!  Once you finally have a clean inbox, you’ll never want to go back to having to scroll through 5 unread advertisements for every 1 piece of “real email.”

Purchasing a Tool

If you feel like your inbox is beyond DIY repair, consider using an affordable tool like SaneBox. Sometimes it’s worth paying a little bit to have a stressful piece of the workday made peaceful and, well, sane. Again, I’ve personally never used Sanebox, but I’ve heard great things about it.

Whatever method makes most sense to you, I encourage you to start it today! What better time to get your email under control? I promise: you won’t regret it.