Time and again we get to discover a bunch of junk getting acumulted in our mailbox and it does irritate us to the core. I have compiled 8 helpful tips below for dealing with the inbox clutter and streamlize your mail counts. It’s time to clean up!!
8 Tips for Clean Out Your Inbox
If in doubt, throw it out!
If you’re like most people, half of your inbox is filled with messages that you will never need. Even if you don’t need the extra bytes, you need to minimize the clutter. Don’t think too hard, just delete any message that doesn’t include crucial information.
The Fresh Start Method
Creat a new email folder named “DMZ” and transfer in everything from your inbox. Sure it sounds like an easy way out, but there’s two good reasons why this works. First, rather than an ever growning inbox, you now have a finite set of DMZ emails to deal with. Second, your inbox is now clean, so you can start with a blank slate and ditch the bad habits that led to your inbox overload to begin with.
Define Actions Vs. References
Some excellent tips come from none other than Microsoft, on whose Outlook many of our cluttered inboxes reside. MS divides inbox content into two types of emails: Reference and Action. Reference information is defined as “information that you keep in case you need it later” (hint: you probably don’t) and action information as “information you must have to complete an action.”
- Place emails you’d like to save into specific “reference folders” either within your email client or on your system. Being descriptive and specific with folder names helps you locate your reference emails in the future.
- Action information“is stored with the action, either on your to-do list or on your Calendar.” Transfer any necessary information to where it needs to be, and then either move the message into a “to-do” list or delete it entirely.
Stop procrastinating and just get it done already!
You can probably handle a good chunk of of your email messageS’ tasks in less than two minutes. So just do it — file it, reply to it, make that phone call, or just delete the message and move on to the next task.
Delegate emails and tasks to the right person.
Yes, delegation is even more valuable at inbox cleanup time than it is at any other time. If that email is asking for help with something that’s not normally on your plate or in your area of expertise, forward that sucker on to the person most suited for the job. If you’re feeling nice, a simple reply with some possible sources for answers (you can be a hero with nothing more than a 30-second Google and a “here’s a link that might help you” response) can also suffice.
Take the opportunity to set up email templates — not only do templets create an efficient framework to take care of your inbox backup, but they are also time savers. By setting up simple ‘form replies’ for repetitive email tasks, you’ll save yourself time and mental capital, freeing you to focus on the tasks that matter most. Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client has a Templates folder built in by default, and there are a number of ways to integrate the same functionality within Outlook and other popular clients.
Filters are your friend!
Prevent your inbox from getting out of control by intercepting the messages before they even get there. You have a spam filter working already, right? Turn up the controls to block as much as possible (just remember to check your junk folder every once in a while, so that it’s not catching something it shouldn’t). If you know that a sender will always give you receipts, add a filter to send their emails directly to your “Receipts” folder. Are you on any mailing lists (job-related, of course)? Sales, coupons, forum and social media comments, friend requests, newsletters, company-wide memos? Get them to go where they need to go once, and never have to think about it again.
Go to the Source
We all have one or more people who send us far too many emails. If you didn’t already know who these people are, culling your inbox will make it painfully clear. Email guru Merlin Mann came up with the nicest possible way to tell such people off: “We both get so much email these days that I worry some stuff might be falling between the cracks. Can we agree to compile all our questions and links into one daily email unless there’s an emergency?”