If you’re anything like me, chances are you have an unreasonable number of ‘I will get to later’ unread emails. They are ones you saved for later, newsletters, and promotions from your favorites stores that you meant to get to later but didn’t. As the number grows, your avoidance grows stronger! Oh, the life of a busy professional.
Much like household clutter, your inbox clutter can add a lot of unrecognized stress and feelings of being flustered to your life. So, how do you Marie Kondo your inbox? Here are a few tips to say goodbye to the ones you don’t need, and have access to the emails that help you do your job and run your life.
1. Make time to tackle it
You need to tame this beast, and the only way out of this mess is through. Yes, you need to face your inbox head on and go on a deleting and organizing spree. Realize that the task of dealing with your inbox is weighing on you, and you’ll be much more productive once you tackle it. So, prioritize!
2. Deal with the easiest ones first
Promotions are easy – instant delete. If you want to take it much further, unsubscribe to them. You don’t need them, and there will be more where they came from. Next is newsletters. While you may have wanted to read the content, you didn’t. Plus, all of that content from your favorite news sites and blogs are available on those sites. You can find what you need, when you need it.
3. Delete anything unopened, and over two weeks old
If you haven’t read it by now, is it that important? Think about it: you prioritize the things you need to get to. It’s human nature. We all feel this fear that if we delete something, we might miss it. Much like throwing out our favorite jeans from 2005. Newsflash: You won’t miss it and if you do, you can replace it. You can email that person and ask for them to resend it, or fill you in on where you left on a project. It’s that simple.
4. Mass delete
Some people even choose to delete anything and everything that’s more than a month old. It might seem scary, but again – chances are you won’t need it! All of your files are likely on Google Drive. If you’re concerned, sift through your email and resave the stuff you think you might need. But, as in point #3, chances are if you miss it, you can ask someone to resend it.
5. Organize new emails as they come in
Folders and labels are your friend, especially on Gmail. Label everything as it comes in, and store it away in folders or delete it right away. A pro-tip for dealing with unread emails: change your Gmail inbox to a layout which has the unread or important emails at the top. This way, when you click “unread” because you want to deal with it later, it’ll be front and centre on the top.
When you get any newsletter or promo email, unsubscribe right away if it’s no longer relevant to you. Keep stock of the ones you continually delete. Even if you love that store, you aren’t reading them!
Every Friday, take an hour in the morning to go through all of your unread emails. Never let them sit longer than a week.
Commit to never letting it happen again
The best way to avoid inbox overload is to make a conscious effort to keep it tidy. Much like a diet, once you start to slack the weight piles back on. You have to make a commitment to keep your inbox unread emails to 0, or else that pesky read notification on your email app will continue to climb back up to where it was.
Don’t be afraid of mass deleting old emails – seriously. It’ll feel scary when you click “select all” and even scarier when you hit “delete”, but you’ll feel a huge relief. You feel like you’ve been cleansed!
What are some of your tips for staying on top of your email?