I don’t know about you, but my e-mail inbox can get overwhelming quickly. Everything from junk mail from all the online shopping I do (oops!) to personal and work, I need to stay constantly on top of it to keep my head above water. I have found, though, that by sticking to a few “rules,” my inbox stays a lot less stressful. Here are fives rules for maintaining a happy inbox:
1. Subfolders are your friend
Categorizing your e-mails not only promotes keeping a clean inbox, but also helps you stay organized if you need to find a message on the fly. Basic categories could be: Personal, Work, Finances, Shopping, School, and within these you can also get more specific. Working on a number of projects? Make a folder for each of these. Once that e-mail has been answered and addressed, away to the folder it goes. Or even delete it if you won’t need that info again!
2. Delete spam
This may seem obvious, but a lot of times (especially when we’re always checking e-mail on our phones), we just try to ignore all the junk e-mail that clutters our inbox. The first thing I do in the morning, before responding to any messages, is send those suckers to the trash bin. There is no need for them to be in your inbox, and they are nothing but distracting. Delete, delete, delete!
Do you get e-mails from a shop that you went into once, like 6 years ago? Time to unsubscribe. This is different than deleting because you can be a little more selective in this process. For example, as much as it crams up my inbox in the morning, I like seeing the new arrivals at my favorite clothing companies, and also like to get info if any of my favorite workout studios are having good deals. These are the ones we can stay subscribed to, but just delete after reading. The spam you get that’s totally irrelevant to your life? Hit unsubscribe or use a service like unroll.me. Take a few hours to go through your junk mail and do this—you’ll thank me later!
4. Carve out e-mail time
With our phones almost constantly in-hand and e-mail open on our computers while we work, setting aside time that is just for e-mail is easier said than done. What we don’t notice, is how distracting e-mail can be while we’re trying to get our actual work done. Instead, plan to check your e-mail three times a day. In the morning, after lunch, and before you head home for the day. This way, you aren’t constantly going into your e-mail and getting sidetracked every 15 minutes. Plus, one less tab is open on your computer!
5. Plan for the future
Inbox management should be considered a part of your daily responsibilities. Once you get ahead of it, it really takes only a few minutes every morning (or afternoon if you’re not a morning person). The important thing is making sure you come up with a system that works for you. Making this part of your routine will take away all that stress associated with your inbox in the past. And I have to say, getting an organized inbox—or your messages to zero—is one of the best feelings of all time, am I right?!
Do you have any tips for making your inbox a happy place?