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Did you know that the average person spends more than half the workday checking their business and personal emails? And while email is an essential tool for many businesses, odds are you’re wasting at least a good chunk of your day wading through a disorganized inbox.
In fact, you might be surprised by the amount of extra time you have in the day once you know how to organize your email.
Listed below are a few helpful steps to achieving an organized inbox. Once you complete them, you’ll never want to go back to an overwhelming email account again!
Clean Out Your Inbox
This step will take the most time. Depending on the state of your inbox, it might take a lot of time. But it’s the most important!
Before you can begin to file emails, you need to have a clean slate. Take an afternoon or two to go through every email in your inbox, clearing out all of the clutter.
Now, don’t delete every single email. It might be tempting to hit that “delete all” button, but there are likely emails that you’ll want or need access to later and it’s important to hang onto them.
Delete anything that’s irrelevant or outdated, such as a coupon that expired three months ago or updates from a site that you no longer use. And while you’re going through these non-essential emails, you can work on the next step.
Unsubscribe from Updates and Newsletters
Deleting emails is such a mindless task, you probably don’t pay attention when you’re constantly deleting dozens of emails from sites or services you no longer use (or never did!). And even if you do use a site, such as Facebook or Twitter, do you really need a notification every time someone sends you a message or tags you in a post? That’s what site notifications are for!
Unsubscribe from everything you can – it will do wonders for your inbox organization. Go into each of your social media accounts and unclick any email update options.
Then, take inventory of the newsletters you get from various sites. If you delete them without even opening the letter, it’s time to unsubscribe.
Consolidate Your Inboxes
It’s much easier to control your inboxes if you’re able to see them all at once and there are a few options for doing so. The first is to have one email account. Closeout all but one and make it both your business and personal account.
For some people, this isn’t an option. Not to worry, you can also forward your emails from one account to another, or use the mail app on your computer to view all of your accounts in one place. This is probably the easiest option, as there’s no work involved besides linking your various accounts to the app.
Create Folders and Labels
One of the most efficient ways to organize your email inbox is to create folders and labels and let the site manage your emails for you. Create folder in Gmail for each category of email. For example, you might have a folder for family, a separate one for friends, and a third for business messages.
As you get emails, label them accordingly. From then on, when you receive an email from that person, it will go into the correct folder after you’ve read it, allowing you to easily find anything you’re looking for in the future.
You can also set emails to go directly into their corresponding folder, skipping your inbox entirely. If you autopay your utility bill, for instance, you can make these emails go straight to your bills folder. That way, it will be there if you need it, but won’t be crowding your inbox with unnecessary messages.
Empty Your Trash
The trash section in your inbox is a great tool, as it prevents emails you delete from vanishing completely by temporarily holding them in their own folder. If you get a large number of emails daily, you’re bound to delete something that you should have saved every now and then.
But your trash can take up space in your inbox and should be cleared every now and then. The first option is to set your inbox to empty the trash every time you quit the app. However, this might not be the best option, as it puts you in danger of permanently deleting something that you later realize you need.
Most people don’t need to empty their trash more than once a month or so. And if you’re using a service like Gmail, it will do this for you automatically.
Turn Off Notifications
At this point in the process, your inbox should be pristine! Now all that’s left to do is keep it maintained. But even with a neat and tidy email, you might still be in danger of wasting time in your mail app throughout the day.
To help prevent this, consider turning off the on-screen notifications. Try to stay focused on your actual work for an hour or so at a time, checking your inbox in between if you want to. It’s difficult for your brain to get into a work rhythm if it’s being interrupted every few minutes with emails!
Learn How to Organize Your Email to Increase Productivity
Depending on the level of disarray your accounts are currently in, organizing your email might take a day or two. But it will be well worth the effort once you’re able to cut down the amount of time you waste sifting through your inbox.
Remember, learning how to organize your email is just the first step. In order to avoid falling back into the situation you’re in now, you need to maintain your hard work by taking a few minutes every day to clean your inboxes.
Looking for more tips and tricks for optimizing your computer and workflow? Check out our blog!