How to Clear Out Your Email Inbox Without Losing Your Sanity
If you've got an email inbox which is currently overflowing with years worth of newsletters, junk and spam then let me show you how you can tackle it without losing your mind.
How to Clear Out Your Email Inbox
Without Losing Your Sanity!
When your inbox is literally bursting at the seams, there comes the point when you have just got to say, ‘enough is enough’ and do something about it.
Now, if this isn’t something you tackle very often, then you could be looking at thousands of emails to sort out. And wow, that’s is a pretty daunting and very tedious prospect.
So, how do you give yourself an inbox clear out without losing the will to live?
In this article, I will show you some examples of how I use different email features in my Google Apps account, to very quickly clean up my inbox.
Start at the Top
It’s so easy to get distracted when you have an enormous amount of emails in your inbox. Which is why I always recommend starting at the top (most recent) when undergoing a clear out.
If you have emails in your inbox which are years old, it doesn’t matter if you sort them out today, next week or next month as they have already been swallowed up. Try instead, to look at what’s coming to you each day as a priority as the rest of this process is going to take care of your backlog.
Make a Decision
For each email, you are going to open it and make a decision.
- Unsubscribe and Delete
Let’s look at these in a little more detail:
You either do something with it right now or schedule it as a task to action later.
I like to refer to the 2-minute rule here, which states that if it takes you less than 2 minutes to complete, then do it now.
If it takes more than 2 minutes, then add this as a task to your to-do list, diary or task management system.
And don’t forget to move it out of your inbox too. The aim of this game is to clear out your inbox and not to use it as a storage/filing system.
If you have scheduled an email as a future task, then add it to a folder to refer to later. This could be a folder named ‘To Action’ or a specific folder for that type of email. For example, I have separate folders for each of my clients, so any email that has been scheduled as a task will then be added to the email folder for that client. This makes it super easy to find later.
We have just covered filing an email which is to be actioned later. But you should also get into the habit of adding emails you want to keep for reference into folders as you open them.
Here's an example of my email inbox folder system:
- Newsletter Subscriptions
- IT Stuff
- Programmes and Courses
- Social Media
Each of these folder also has sub-folders. So under clients, I have subfolders for each client. And under Newsletter Subscriptions, I have subfolders for each of the businesses/brands I get a regular newsletter from. And so on.
3. Unsubscribe and Delete
For any emails you no longer want to receive or no longer serve you and your business, I recommend you unsubscribe as you go.
Once you have unsubscribed, you should then delete that email, along with any other emails from the same sender. This is where the magic of filtering comes in!
Filtering is the most used feature of my email inbox. It’s like an old friend who helps me out when I need it.
For example, say I have just unsubscribed from an email newsletter. I then want to delete this email and all of the other emails from this sender. So, I copy and paste the email address into the search bar of my Google email and hit enter. This brings up every email from that email address. I can now select all emails, and then mass delete. This is a great way to get rid of lots of unwanted emails.
Now the temptation here is to start looking through the old emails to make sure you’ve not missed something, however, if you didn’t look at it when it arrived, then it’s not important to look at now.
Be ruthless. Stick to your guns. And remember why you are doing an inbox clear out in the first place!
If you don’t want to unsubscribe, but just want to delete that particular email then just go ahead and do it. You may have already taken action on the email, or its content may not be relevant to you right now.
You don’t have to keep hold of every email from a particular sender, just because you like 90% of what they send. If a particular newsletter or email isn’t relevant, it is ok to hit delete.
Take Away Top Tips
So, that’s my no-nonsense way of getting started when you have a mammoth inbox clear out ahead of you.
Here are some takeaway top tips:
- Start with your most recent stuff; the rest has waited this long, and it can wait a little longer
- Be ruthless and unsubscribe from whatever isn’t serving you right now
- Don’t use your inbox as a filing system, if you want to keep it, create a folder to make it easy to find later
- Use filtering to delete all emails from one sender in bulk
- Chip away at it daily, starting with the emails you receive day to day, working through the process of Action - File - Unsubscribe - Delete
- Don’t get overwhelmed. There is no need to sort thousands of emails in one sitting.
- Focus on your current daily emails first and start to filter and delete the rest as you go
- Don’t be mean to yourself for letting your inbox get this way. Everything can be fixed with patience and a plan.
Have a super productivity day.
How many emails do you have in your inbox right now?
Scroll down to the bottom of the page to leave a comment