There are two kinds of people in this world: those who have clean and neat inboxes, and those who have thousands of unread emails. I was the latter, the guy with 60,000 (yes, 60k) emails and no idea how to go through them all. With a little research, struggle, trial and tribulation, I gathered some tips and best practices that helped me get rid of the email clutter for good.
When you have a large volume of emails, there is a good chance you have subscribed to a number of mailing lists. Step one of this process is to unsubscribe from the ones you truly don’t care about. In the Specialty Food Social Media Marketing / Online Advertising industry, it isn’t uncommon to be on several emailing lists, as many of your colleagues and peers in the industry offer these types of outreach. I noticed many of the lists I had been receiving mail from, I never signed up for in the first place. A lot of businesses I had purchased goods from online had automatically signed me up for a daily or weekly email list about deals and offers. Are you still getting emails from your Grandma’s favorite specialty food company because you bought her groceries online two years ago? It will benefit your overcrowded inbox to meticulously go one by one and unsubscribe from these lists. Be sure to look for the “Unsubscribe Me From ALL Mailing Lists” option if it exists.
Once you feel you’ve considerably chipped away at the thick carapace of mailing lists you unknowingly threw your email into, it comes time to handle the organization of your current mailbox. Do you separate your mail into categories? What do you do with your mail once you’ve read it?
How to be organizationally sound:
- Create new mail labels to throw your new emails into once read. Create labels that house unread emails if you won’t be able to get to them that day. For example, a business email may include labels for names of clients. You could then create filters that auto-tag emails with specific labels depending on the domain the email was sent from.
Purge your inbox of its contents:
- Once you feel you’ve properly created enough labels (folders) to house your emails in, it is time to purge your inbox of its contents. Highlight every email on the first page by hitting the grey checkbox above the primary tab. Follow that with hitting the ‘archive’ button. Archive everything after Google pops up with the option to archive it all. If you see any errors, simply refresh and archive all once more. Repeat this process until you have zero emails in your primary tab.
Note: Your emails are not lost forever. They are simply moved to the (All Mail) section of your inbox and searchable via the search bar.
So what happens now?..
Best Practices and Habits for the future:
- Use your labels! Organize new mail as it comes in. If the email is important, handle the contents or task within the email right when you open it. And if you can’t, create a task for it on a to-do list or calendar (we use Wunderlist here at our Social Media / Advertising Agency). Emails should be (if possible) only read once. If you leave them to rot in your inbox as a pseudo to-do list, you will get bogged down.
- First thing of every day, go through your emails from most recent to oldest. As emails get older, they become less relevant. Emergency items will likely be re-emailed to you if it is a dire circumstance.
Hopefully everything mentioned here has inspired you to try and conquer the sleeping beast that is your GMail inbox. You don’t have to be bogged down by a plethora of messages any longer! Good habits and organization can help you feel more comfortable about dealing with your everyday influx of emails.
Good luck and thank you for reading!