If you find yourself overwhelmed by the number of emails you get on a daily basis, you are not alone. The red email notification box on a smartphone can skyrocket into the thousands within a few short days, if you don’t diligently purge your account daily. On your desktop computer, the inbox full of unread emails can be just as scary. If you want to get your email account under control, this is the 3 step process that will organize your email inbox. It will take some work, but with a little perseverance it can be done.
The 3 Steps That Will Organize Your Email
1. Ruthlessly Unsubscribe
If you want to get your inbox under control, you have to limit the number of companies and people that have your email address. Even with spam filters in place your inbox can quickly grow out of control if too many people or companies have permission to contact you. You have to limit this.
You should only be getting emails from companies that you regularly interact with or that you want information from such as a coupon code. Last year I bought my Dad some golf gear online for Father’s Day. I don’t play golf and I was getting bombarded by emails from that company. So I unsubscribed and I no longer hear from them.
How to Unsubscribe
It can take a few weeks to completely unsubscribe from companies or people you no longer want to hear from as the emails trickle into your inbox. Even though it is a pain, take the time to follow their unsubscribe protocols, it will be worth it. It is can be easy to get frustrated with each company’s process, but don’t be. They usually put the unsubscribe button in very tiny script at the bottom of the email to deter you from doing this or name it something else. Be aware of these tactics.
Here’s the key point, you can always resubscribe if you change your mind. When you start ruthlessly unsubscribing you will see a huge change in the volume of emails in your inbox. I guarantee you will prefer your email inbox this way.
If you have a Gmail account, Google makes it easy when you are on your phone. If the message is from a mailing list Google will notify you and give you the opportunity to unsubscribe if you wish to.
A Note About Unsubscribe Services
Many people recommend the company unroll.me for help with unsubscribes, but since they were recently in trouble for selling data I would not recommend it. The troubles they had are a good reminder to always be sure you understand the terms of service for any online service (even free ones). Remember, they have to make money somehow too.
2. Viciously Delete
This is the key to decluttering your email inbox. The majority of inbox clutter these days is from companies, not people. So many people have switched to communicating through text messaging or social media that personal emails are much rarer than they used to be. Use the email settings to mark important contacts, file their emails away and then viciously delete the emails you don’t need. Deleting unwanted emails is a great task for passing time in a waiting room or while standing in line somewhere.
If you have thousands of emails sitting in your account untouched sometimes the easiest step to take is to declare email bankruptcy. This means that regardless of where it came from you will delete all emails in your inbox older than a certain date. This is a drastic step and not for the faint of heart. However, if there was an email that was that important that you can’t risk deleting, don’t you think you would have made it a priority already?
3. Divide and Conquer Emails By Sorting Them Into Folders
One of the best ways to clean up your inbox is by filing away important emails into folders in case you need to access them later. (In Gmail, email folders are called labels). The idea is to get your account to inbox zero meaning that your inbox is completely empty. By keeping your inbox as empty as possible, you are better able to manage how you process emails when they come in.
Create Email Folders That Make Sense
When you create names for your email folders, pick names that make sense to you so that you can easily find what you are looking for later. I would start by creating folder names for specific people like your spouse, parents and children and then move on to other folders for specific purposes.
Limit the Number of Folders
I suggest creating between 15 and 25 names for your email folders. This keeps the number of folders manageable, but still allows you to be specific. Examples of folder names I use are:
Health and Fitness
Product Warranty and Registration
School (If you have kids or are working on a degree)
As you start sorting you will realize which folders you need and which ones you don’t. Don’t be afraid to rename a folder if a different name works better.
An organized email account that won’t having your heart racing every time you open it is possible. You just have to diligently follow these steps.
Do you have tips you can share on how to organize your email?
Do you struggle with a digital or physical clutter and need practical tips for getting organized?
Check out these posts.