Emails are essential but can be a real burden when they start to pile up. Now that Spring is here, you should apply some of that “Spring cleaning” to your business email inbox. Your business and your mental health will thank you later.
Decluttering Your Inbox
Unfortunately, there is no magic button or setting that will instantly declutter your inbox (but there’s a startup idea free of charge). Depending on the severity of your backlog, you should plan to set aside about two hours to fully get your inbox decluttered and filters setup so emails don’t pile up again. Or you can do it in a handful of 10 or 20 minute chunks each day until your inbox is manageable again. Either way, it’s time to reclaim your email inbox!
Step 1: Mass Delete
This is the most time-intensive part of the process. It’s time to go through your emails and delete everything that is completely irrelevant. These include invites to past events, old newsletters, social media notifications, emails to meetings that have come and gone, etc. If there is a regular culprit, type that into the search box and mass delete a handful of emails at once to knock some time off the process.
Step 2: Opt Out
One of the biggest culprits of an overflowing inbox is reoccurring email campaigns that you may have signed up for. Thankfully, the FCC makes companies provide an unsubscribe option inside of the email, so you don’t get stuck receiving unwanted emails forever. Any email you don’t want anymore, make sure you unsubscribe.
One tool that can help you unsubscribe to a handful of email subscriptions quickly is unroll.me. It is free and works with Google, Yahoo, Outlook and those who are still hanging on to your AOL account.
Step 3: Create Folders/Filters/Labels
Now that your inbox is clean, it’s time to make it more organized, and ensure it stays that way. Creating folders and using filters and labels will direct new emails into specific places, so you don’t have to dig for that one important email in a slew of unimportant ones.
Start by creating folders for things like expenses, travel, or projects and the like. Move any emails that are relevant to those topics in their corresponding folders. After that is complete, it is time to set up some filters or labels (depending on which email client you use).
Filters and labels will automatically direct new emails into the specific folders based on the filters and labels you set. For instance, if every time you receive an email from your boss you don’t want to miss, you can add a filter for that sender to go into your “important” folder. You can do the same thing by directing all your LinkedIn emails or other social media notifications into a “social folder.”
An additional tip is to use the Auto-reply feature in Gmail or Outlook when you are going to be busy or on vacation. This will send an automatic reply to the sender that you are away and will keep senders from sending repeated messages while you’re away, and keeping your inbox less cluttered in the process.