Today’s Project: Simplify Your Email Inbox
This is a series in which we resource and challenge you to simplify a different area of your home each week. So let’s get at it!
Do you have hundreds or thousands of emails in your inbox? Do you lose track of email you meant to address in some way? Do you feel overwhelmed when you open it? Do you get way too much junk mail?
If so, there’s a better way to live! This was me until I learned the freedom and release-from-stress found in an organized and minimized email inbox!
Here’s your step by step guide to taming the email inbox beast:
- Set aside an hour to do this. It may take a while, but don’t dismay, it’s well worth the effort.
- Start by assessing your junk mail. Your new best friend is a little thing called an “unsubscribe” link. Go through the first several pages of your inbox. Notice who is sending you mail that you find more pesky than helpful. Click on one email from each company. Find the “unsubscribe” or “change email preferences” link at the very bottom. Click it and follow the instructions. I recommend doing this pretty brutally. For example, if stores at which you don’t normally shop are sending you coupons, you don’t need them. They will only lead you to spend money you wouldn’t have spent otherwise. Unsubscribe! I finally did this with Groupon and Living Social because I realized they were leading me to buy things I would have been content without otherwise.
- Once you have aggressively unsubscribed from most junk mail, go through and delete all the emails you no longer need. This may take a while if you have thousands of emails. Look for a way to delete emails in batches. If you have a Gmail account, you can do this by clicking the the down arrow by the bulk action box and selecting “all.” You will then be able to click the trashcan to delete all emails on the page. If there’s one that you want to keep, simply uncheck the box beside it before continuing.
- When you come to an email you want to save, create a new file folder, and stash it there. In Gmail you can do this by clicking the folder image as shown below. Then select an existing folder or click “Create new” in the drop down menu.
- Continue until all or nearly all emails are gone from your inbox. You can still access your filed emails by clicking the corresponding folder. These are located on the left side of a Gmail inbox. The only files that I allow in my inbox from day to day are those I need to respond to or take imminent action. Once that’s done, they’re either filed or deleted.
- Once your inbox is clean and simple, get in the habit of maintaining it day to day. Take the time to unsubscribe from useless junk mail when you start getting it. It will save you the time of deleting it or dealing with it in the long run. Respond to, file and delete emails as they come through as much as possible.
Having an organized and simplified email inbox is truly a better way to live. Try it!