E-mail. The word itself can emote a ton of negative energy. It’s something you have to constantly manage and stay on top of, otherwise it grows into a wild monster! But fear not, I am here to help you overhaul your e-mail so that you can reduce stress in your life!
“But Jill, I have (insert increment of thousands) e-mails in my Inbox! It’s far beyond the point of return.” To which I will say – do not give up! You can turn the ship around. Make the decision that you want to put systems in place so that your Inbox is a place of focus and intention, not overwhelm and chaos.
Without further adieu, let’s dive into my 7 tips for setting your inbox straight!
Tip 1: Set up folders and filters
Your e-mail provider likely has folders and filters that you can use to optimize your e-mail experience. Take advantage of these features. Start with basic folders like “Home”, “Kids”, “Insurance”, “Receipts”. When you have an e-mail that you want to keep for reference purposes, move it into this folder. Note to all of you Gmail users out there (I am one of them!), Gmail uses labels instead of folders. This works in two ways. You can attach a label to an email, so that it is stamped “Kids Summer Camp” on the e-mail itself in your Inbox AND you can also move that e-mail into the label as if it were a folder. I’m a folder gal myself, so I like to move the e-mail physically out of my Inbox and into the folder.
With filters (called “Rules” in Outlook), you can have e-mail automatically do things when they arrive. In Gmail, you can set up filters by clicking on an e-mail, then clicking the three vertical dots on the right-hand side of that e-mail. Select “filter messages like these”, and then click on “create filter”. I like to tell a lot of my e-mails to archive automatically. If I want to search for it later, I can do so in my e-mail search bar. With filters, you can have things moved automatically to a folder or even have something deleted automatically.
Tip 2: Search unsubscribe and click unsubscribe!
One of the biggest issues with Inboxes is the noise and clutter. Do you really need to receive all of those marketing e-mails? Do a quick search in your e-mail’s search bar for “unsubscribe”; this will pull up any e-mail with an unsubscribe option at the bottom. Go through and vet out the e-mails you actually want to be receiving (like my newsletter 🙋♀️!). Pro tip: if you want to keep receiving the e-mails, because they’re from a store you shop at and they send you coupons, take the time to set up a filter so that you don’t have to see every email in your Inbox, but you can still search for that store if you’re looking for deals or coupon codes.
Tip 3: Do – delegate – delete
Remember, the point of an e-mail is to convey information. Once you’ve received the info, you need to decide what to do with it. Is this an action item? If so, flag it or start it in your Inbox so you remember to take action. Or, better yet, capture the to-do in your to-do management system, where you keep other to-dos. If it’s something that you need someone else to take care of, like your spouse or partner, forward the e-mail on and then delete it. Delegating can be a beautiful thing! Finally, you have the option to delete.
Tip 4: Create a separate e-mail for promotions
If you find yourself wanting to subscribe to a lot of marketing e-mail lists, consider setting up another e-mail address that you can use for this purpose. This can cut down on clutter in your main e-mail, and you’ll know where to go in the event you want to look up a coupon code or read a newsletter.
Tip 5: Delete large, unnecessary files
If you are running out of space in your e-mail, here’s a great trick to free up space! In your e-mail’s search bar, type in “size:15000000”. That’s right, 15 and then six 0s. This will pull up anything 15MB or bigger in your Inbox. You can also go down to 10000000 or 5000000, which pulls up e-mails 10MB or 5MB and larger, respectively. Make sure to empty your trash after you delete these large e-mails!
Tip 6: Take small bites
Overhauling and organizing your e-mail can seem like a daunting task. Do yourself a favor, and break this process down into manageable chunks. For example, set aside 15 minutes each night, before you turn the TV on, to tackle some e-mails. A little bit of progress is still progress! Pro tip: If you have thousands of e-mails in your Inbox, consider moving all of them to a folder called “e-mail cleanup”. That way, you clear your Inbox, and you can move through those e-mails in chunks at a time. It also gives you a fresh start in your Inbox where you can monitor messages coming in and take action! Remember, do-delegate-delete, unsubscribe, or move to a folder. Just being intentional about processing your e-mails will make a huge difference.
Tip 7: Don’t use e-mail as your to-do management system
I think it’s OK to have a few e-mails in your Inbox that are actionable items. In my Inbox right now, I have a survey I want to fill out, a vendor I need to reply to, and a newsletter I want to read. They all have stars on them, which is my indicator that I need to take action. But, that’s it. Everything else has been processed out of my Inbox. After all, the whole point of this is setting up a system so that you don’t lose important e-mails. This can cause undue stress!
And that’s it! Now you have 7 helpful tips to get your e-mail under control. Share with me below about your cleanup process! You can do it!