Conquer your email inbox

If there’s one thing I don’t recommend, it’s letting your email inbox hit over 1200 emails before you start clearing it out. Furthermore, I don’t recommend only clearly out about 300 and feeling you’ve achieved something. Instead, I want to talk about taking time out from your normal routine to do a bit of email housekeeping.

Email housekeeping

So, what do I mean by email housekeeping? It’s not just about clearing out all those newsletters you subscribed to, but were never opened… and they are still sitting there for the day you will blitz them all. And it’s certainly not about responding to people you should have emailed ages ago. Yikes, that would be a very bad situation. And fortunately a situation I’ve more or less avoided.

You need to set a few hours aside if necessary. Don’t be tempted to just do a few dozen. It’s time to bite the bullet.

If you have an inbox that scares the bejesus out of you, and it’s not just about what to delete but what to do with the rest, read on…

Start at the bottom

I cleared out all 1200 emails by starting at the bottom rather than the top. I cleared out the newest stuff I knew I didn’t need. But then I went to the very earliest of the unread emails and worked my way through them. Sometimes, when you know you don’t really want to receive an email from a particular company or newsletter, you can do a search for that emailer and mass delete. With any luck, that will get rid of quite a few.

But what about those emails you thought would be really interesting to read – but you never had the time?

Well, now’s your chance to read them. From the bottom up.

If you find they’re not so interesting after all, you can go for another search and mass delete.

But if they are interesting, create a file for them and move them over there. Open them before you do so because they might not be worth saving. But the ones that are should totally be filed away.

Use a filing system

Make sure your file names are explanatory. If your file names aren’t clear, your eye will pass over them in future and the entire contents of those folders will be forgotten about.

Be patient. Don’t give up. There will be times when it seems like a slog. I recommend putting on some music. Take short breaks. Do not abandon the task for another day.

Take the opportunity to unsubscribe from any newsletters that are no longer helpful. Pay particular attention to heavy spammers. I have one email list that drives me round the bend because it’s related to a discussion list. I’ve already unsubscribed from part of it, but the rest still arrives in my inbox. Unfortunately, I need it for my work.

But that means that anything else that isn’t useful is going to get the boot.

An empty inbox is a perfect inbox!

If you’re someone who is always on top of their email inbox, you will never understand the absolute bliss of an empty inbox. I mean, empty for the first time in years. Or the obsession with keeping it that way. Every unwanted email becomes an abomination that has to be removed as soon as possible.

You might notice times when you’re slipping up. There’s a pile in there. Don’t fall back into complacency, only attending to the most important and ignoring the rest. Read, file, or delete.

I now deal with all the emails in my inbox at the very least first thing in the morning and last thing before I switch off my PC. Not to mention several times during the day.

I realise there are people who’ve always done this. I would deal with some things, but potentially interesting email newsletters were often left for another day.

No more! I have conquered my inbox. It is currently at zero. There’s a filing system that makes sense. I like this too much not to keep it that way.