Making Peace with Your Inbox

You know that sick-to-your-stomach feeling when your work and/or personal email is completely out of control? I feel your pain! Unfortunately, the junk, outdated, and duplicative emails won’t just disappear. In fact, they clutter up your life and make it difficult to put your hands on the information you need. There’s a way to remedy that, it just takes a one-time big commitment and quick routine maintenance thereafter.

Commit to One Big Email Purge

It is so much easier to purge your Inbox if you sort – either by sender and/or conversation. Sorting by sender allows you to delete a bunch of emails from a given sender at once – think retailers and newsletters. Sorting by subject line allows you to save just the last e-mail in a chain, if you still need it, while deleting prior strings. Note: If you use Google’s gmail to manage your email, you need to search instead of sort by sender. For more information, check out these search tips from GTricks.

  1. If the sender is “junk mail,” take a minute to unsubscribe. Then, delete all e-mails from the sender.
  2. Delete any e-mails you don’t still need.
  3. As you go, set up folders to organize your e-mails. Personal e-mail folders may include bills, photos, travel, etc. Work e-mail folders may include individual projects or catch-alls for frequent types of communications, e.g. financials, HR, etc. Move e-mails from your Inbox into these folders.

Keep Up with Maintenance Mode

Once you’ve cleaned things out and established a system, try to keep up with it on a regular basis. For example, you may want to set aside 15 minutes a few times a week to delete new junk (or unnecessary) e-mails, file others in folders, and unsubscribe from any new junk correspondence. If you slip up and let things get too cluttered, go back to the big purge again.

Take Away

Your e-mail doesn’t have to be a huge weight on your shoulders. Just take the time on the front-end to ditch the spam, organize the “keeps,” and wade through the outdated trash. From there, maintenance is simple and you can easily tackle those 50+ e-mails waiting for you when you wake up in the morning. Happy days!


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