Updated: Apr 2, 2019
by Stephanie Mitton
Every so often, I find that my inbox can become cluttered with subscriptions that I never find the time to read. Or I’m checking my emails but rarely getting anything meaningful done. Sound familiar? If you’re not careful, emails can become a source of frustration and overwhelm. In this post I share my own personal techniques to clean your inbox and actually enjoy emails! By cutting down the time and clutter of email, you will have more time to be the fierce women you are and focus on more meaningful things.
The first thing you need to do is clean up the mess.
CLEAN UP THE MESS
1. MAKE TIME
You know that cluttered mess is causing you stress, so set aside some committed time to tackle it. Even if you only have 15 minutes, take it! It’s amazing how small actions can lead to big results.
Unsubscribe from anything that you don't have regular time to read, despite your good intentions. You know, those emails that sit there for a week because you plan to get to them eventually and then end up deleting anyway. And those emails you don’t remember subscribing to? These are all a distraction and an ongoing timesuck. Take the time to unsubscribe.
3. DELETE OLD EMAILS (OR) GET OLD EMAILS OUT OF YOUR INBOX
Do you have hundreds of old emails lingering in your inbox?
Delete. Them. All.
If an email is does not require an action, it needs to get out of the way for the emails that do. This will significantly improve your ability to find important emails when you need them and respond efficiently. I am sure I just caused at least half of you heart attacks, but you can do it.
For emails that are no longer actionable, but may be required for future reference, create ONE subfolder to store them. If you go crazy with multiple subfolders, it can become cluttered and confusing.
For work emails, I like to create subfolders and maybe once or twice a year clean them out. If I need space, I archive them. Myrrhanda, the co-founder of WOMENdontDOthat, takes a different approach. She creates a folder for each year that is essentially where she keeps the “cover her butt” emails. She will keep the 2017 folder for all of 2018 and then delete it if she needs space.
You can do it! Those emails are just causing you needless stress. As a famous Queen once said, let it go! Just keep telling yourself that you are not reading them anyways so it really doesn't matter if you delete them.
4. LIMIT YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS
When a store asks for your email, you have a choice, you DON'T have to give it to them. If there is a deal you only get if you provide your email, unsubscribe when you get home.
I generally limit my use of emails for connecting with friends, updates on my favourite blog/podcast and correspondence about school and kids activities. I have very limited subscriptions.
5. BLOCK TIME
Only review your personal emails when you have time to actually read and action them. Re-reading emails and saving them to action later wastes precious time. Turning off your notifications will help.
6. USE EMAIL TOOLS
Learn the tools available to you by your email provider. Many platforms will allow you to create rules to send certain emails directly into folders - a "read later" folder could be helpful, or to combine messages from a particular sender or with a particular subject line - so you are only seeing the latest message in your email box.
7. CREATE RULES
Create rules for yourself and KEEP them. For example if your emails build up to more than 20 emails, commit to unsubscribe from at least 5 email senders. So you can keep your email down to no more than ten unread emails at a time. Another example would be to delete emails after a week that you have not actioned and are not critical (don’t delete your bills).
8. USE YOUR JUNK MAIL
Many stores do offer discounts and promo codes via email, but promotional emails can pile up in your inbox pretty quickly. Consider marking them as junk and having them go directly into your junk mail where they will hang out for ten days or so until they’re automatically deleted. When it’s time to do some online shopping, open your junk mail and see what deals are available. This can help you be more intentional about online shopping as well - out of sight, out of mind.
STAY IN TOUCH
Good luck cleaning up the mess and future proofing your inbox. I can't wait until you see how great the decluttering will make you feel. You can do it!! Do you have other tips and tricks you use to keep your inbox clean? I would love to hear about them. Leave a comment below.