10 Tips to help you declutter your Inbox

An inbox crammed with emails can be incredibly stressful. Each email is like a monkey on your back, albeit a small one. After a while, it can build up, and before you know it, you’re overloaded.

Use these tips to streamline your process for dealing with emails and clean up your inbox

Don’t become a slave to email

Don’t check email first thing in the morning, or have it on constantly. Checking email first thing will get you stuck in email for awhile. Instead, do your most important thing for the day, or the thing you’ve been procrastinating on the most. Then check email. Better yet, do 2 or 3 things first. Also, if you are constantly checking email throughout the day, or it notifies you as soon as an email comes in, you will be constantly distracted and not able to focus on the task before you

Never put off emails that will take under five minutes to address

Think about it—just like anything in life that you must do, it’s either now or later. Train yourself to power through emails that only demand a brief response, even if you have to think seriously for a couple minutes. You’ll be glad you did it, and you’ll get better at it over time

Enable conversation view (sometimes called “threaded view”) in your mail client

Most mail clients (and even iOS devices, now) have this ability. In Outlook, go to View, Arrange By, Conversation

This will limit the number of  individual emails in your inbox, and will instead create strings of emails that keep related messages tied together under a single subject heading

Organise your Folders

At the most basic level create folders for Pending and Hold (if you’re waiting for someone else to do something before responding). Also create a Read Later folder for emails from friends such as joke chain letters, funny cat videos, and links you want to visit. Immediately move these emails to your new folder when they come in. Review the items in this folder only once you get home at the end of the day

You can add as many Folders as you like e.g. by Project, by Function, by Geography. be careful how far you go down this track. You don’t want to end up with hundreds of folders that themselves become too difficult to manage

Gmail, and an increasing number of email providers, now enable you to automate this whole organization process so you no longer have to manually file emails in their appropriate folders

Turn off notifications from Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Create a folder and accompanying filters for receipts and for notifications. Or just turn off notifications entirely from services like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In (which is particularly annoying). These emails clutter your inbox and make it hard to scan through emails-and with Facebook, you’ll get the notifications when you log in anyway

Archive or delete emails you no longer need

This may seem like a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t do it. One reason to archive is to gain the peace of mind of seeing a cleaner inbox without the fear of ever losing a message you need. In Outlook use Tools, Mailbox Cleanup, AutoArchive. This moves old items to the archive folder, form which you can retrieve them if you ever need them

Deleted items likewise sit in a Deleted Items folder, still in your email system but not in the Inbox. If your account is really full, use a free email service. move all the deleted emails there and empty the Deleted Items folder. better still, just bite the bullet and empty the Folder anyway! Again in Outlook its Tools, Mailbox Cleanup, Empty


Spam is unwanted email. Bacon is email you have at some point, often unwittingly, signed up for in the past. Go through your inbox and look for newsletters, promotional emails, shopping notifications, etc. Open each message and ask yourself if this email is really serving you—can you get this information another way? If so, consider unsubscribing. Unsubscribe from as many lists as you can. The Unsubscribe button or link is somehwere in the email. Remember to unsubscribe, don’t just delete

Send Less Email

One way to cut down on the amount of email you receive is to reduce the amount of email you send. Above all be VERY wary of hitting reply-all. Replying all to an email is a guarantee that you’ll receive an exponential number of emails in return—emails that you’ll have to sort through to find action items or important pieces of information

Before sending an email, ask yourself if this could be better served with a quick phone call or text message. In a way, sending an email just puts off a conversation that you could be having right now

When you have no option but to send an email, keep it short and to the point. You’ll probably get something short and to the point in return. If you write a novel, don’t expect a concise answer

Stop Having Conversations on Email

If you don’t want your inbox cluttered, then you must not clutter others’ either. Stop digital chatting. Pick up the phone – I know… shocking….

Decide to Get Un-buried

Being constantly buried in email is a choice—not an affliction. By recognizing that your current methods and actions are contributing to the digital clutter in your life and adopting new techniques, you can move towards a life with less digital clutter. Try and set a goal such as “every day when I leave the office, I want to have less than 30 emails in my inbox (folders not included).” Having a clean inbox will allow you to respond to emails promptly-people love prompt email responders

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