10 Little-Known Pro Tips to Clean Up Your Email Inbox
It happens to everybody: you sit down to give your email inbox a quick scan, but you’re still there an hour later, scrolling unread messages and wondering why you haven’t yet accomplished higher-priority tasks. The sheer volume of today’s electronic correspondence is overwhelming, but these 10 email management tips can help you keep your inbox, and your sanity, in check.
1. Group Like With Like.
Arranging emails by topic allows you to move more quickly through your inbox by eliminating the need to constantly shift focus with each message. Almost every webmail system or email client offers two ways of organizing messages: you can either use tags to label emails in your inbox or create folders for sorting emails into discrete groups. Gmail also has a category system that can be trained to automatically sort emails for you.
2. Become a Search Ninja.
Half the trouble of a full inbox is being able to easily locate the emails you need. Use this guide on Gmail’s advanced search to find what you’re looking for quickly. Of course, the whole process goes even faster if you’ve already sorted your emails (see previous tip).
3. Shut Off Notifications.
You can’t ignore your email completely, but constant checks and those “You’ve got mail!” notifications are tiny distractions that can hurt your productivity throughout the day. Cut down on interruptions and focus on more pressing work by limiting email checks to one-hour windows in the morning and afternoon.
4. Snooze Emails.
If your inbox is cluttered with unread emails, schedule their re-delivery at more convenient times. Polymail offers this function, along with the ability to send emails at times customized for specific recipients.
5. Consolidate Annoying Subscriptions With Unroll.me.
The iOS app Unroll.me lets you review your email subscriptions and decide whether to unsubscribe or roll multiple emails into a single message. Voila: fewer emails in your inbox!
6. Filter Based on Priority.
When it comes to email tricks, automated filters are old news for most of you – but did you know you can also use hashtags to filter your emails, just like you do on social media? Simply insert the hashtag in the body of the email and use your email client’s advanced search function to ferret it out as needed.
7. Send and Archive.
An inbox full of unopened emails can be stressful, but so is an inbox crammed with messages you’ve already read. Once you’re done with a conversation, use Gmail’s “send and archive” feature to put it out of sight and out of mind.
8. Put Email on Your To-Do List.
Do you use a workflow management tool to keep your projects organized? Well, some clients (Wrike, for example) let you move emails out of your inbox and into the workflow task list, where they belong.
9. Take Immediate Action.
Even well-filtered email inboxes can become cluttered. Whether you hit “delete” or type out a short reply, keep disarray at bay by taking immediate action. This way, you won’t have a slow-building pile of email impinging on your awareness throughout the day.
10. Be Brief.
Certain situations require long, carefully constructed email responses, but limiting yourself to a few short sentences wherever possible can help you reduce the time it takes to get through a crowded inbox.
One Last Tip
With hundreds of billions of email messages sent daily, chances are your inbox hit the critical stage just in the time it took you to read this blog. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to do it all at once – that’s a recipe ripe for frustration! Instead, dedicate just five or 10 minutes a day to implementing the tips we’ve already showed you. Before you know it, you’ll finally reach inbox zero.
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