9 Proven and Tested Tips for Keeping Your Email Inbox Clean

It doesn’t matter if you use Gmail or Yahoo or Outlook, the tips given in this article will be helpful for you irrespective of the email service you use. So, read-on if you don’t want to get buried in emails and lose the time that you could have spent doing more important things.

  1. Only Keep Those Emails in Your Inbox Which Requires Immediate Action

Since email has became an indispensable aspect of professional culture, so let’s accept it inbox zero is completely impossible, but what’s possible is getting close to this number by being ruthless about which messages get to stay in your inbox.

I receive hundred plus emails everyday many of which are urgent and involve high-level managers. I only keep these in my inbox thus decreasing the number of emails to around thirty, thus allowing me to take action on items in an extremely timely manner.

  1. Create a “Waiting Folder” for Action-Pending Emails

So, the emails that require urgent action goes into the inbox, then where will those that require action from someone else before one can respond to them will go? Well, those will go into the “waiting” folder. 

Believe me it’s a really great way to categorize your emails, so whenever you want to find that week old email you’ll exactly know where to find it, you wouldn’t have to go through those thousands of emails in your inbox.

So, create a waiting folder for such emails to keep them from junking up your inbox, and visit them each day or week to keep a tab on pending projects. 

  1. Make Subfolders 

Create an easy-to-decode subfolder or label system to group together important email chain. With this system in place you’ll be able to find whatever you need within seconds of a request because you’ll know exactly where it is stored and how to locate it quickly.

For instance, the above “Waiting folder,” can be further divided into sub-folders with labels like “Due Tomorrow” or “Due in X Days.”

Feel free to experiment with the labels to find out what works for you. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong. As long as it helps you keep your inbox clean and allows you to locate things easily, then it’s a good system.

  1. Set Inbox Rules or Filters

Almost all of the major email providers allow you to set up rules or filters on your inbox that will take action for you and can help you quickly & effortlessly categorize emails.

So, just set up your inbox rules or filters and easily banish newsletters, marketing emails, & spam from your inbox forever, along with automatically placing emails into different folders.

  1. Use Your Calendar to Track Emails That Require Follow-up

We all receive emails that require more than a simple reply, so when you receive one what you should do is to move it into the designated subfolder and put a reminder on your calendar that includes the folder location and the date when follow up is required. 

Including Outlook and Gmail, most of the email providers allows you to access the calendar, and create events. It literally took me years to figure this one out and make it a habit (still struggling to keep up with this one), but let me tell you something its one of the best tips on the list and will ensure that you don’t miss anything.

  1. Don’t Let Junk Mail Languish in Your Inbox

Be brutally honest with yourself. Delete those emails that you won’t need or won’t act on, and move the rest of them into subfolders. Be as quick as you can to make a decision about an email. Anything longer than five seconds is too much of an emotional investment, and it’s a sign that you need to let that one go.

The same goes for most of the promotional emails and newsletters, I mean let’s be honest most of the newsletters just depresses you about global politics, while other tries to sell you things you can’t afford, so unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe and then unsubscribe some more. You can also use a three-strike rule for promotional emails and newsletters. The third time you delete a newsletter or promo email from a specific sender, unsubscribe from it.

  1. Create Templates for Your Go-To Responses

Irrespective of the kind of work that you do, there is definitely a part of your job that you do again and again every day. This can be anything from sending daily productivity report to answering client inquiries.

Tailoring a different reply for every email can be a huge time-suck. So, instead of letting these repetitive tasks to cut down on your productive time, what you should do is to take advantage of canned responses and create templates for emails that you send on a regular basis.

For instance, if you regularly receive emails such as ‘tell me about your services,’ or ‘how do I set up an appointment?’”, instead of writing the same exact email each day, create a canned response and save it as your “Our Services” template.

  1. Set Aside Time Blocks for Checking Email—and Stick to Them

Do you just leave your schedule open for meetings of unspecified times and lengths every day? I’m sure the answer will be no for most of the people. So, why give email free rein to intrude on your day?

Remember, spending more than one or two hours of your day on checking emails is not only unnecessary — it is also adversely effects your productivity. You could be spending that time doing more important tasks.

Remedy this by setting specific times during the day for checking your emails.

You can read through and respond to emails as soon as you get to work in the morning, a few minutes before you leave for home, or both. Discover the pace you need to set and find a routine that works for you.

Try to keep your emails as short as possible, to ensure that you’re able to respond to each and every email. The people at the other end are busy people too, so they don’t have the luxury of reading lengthy emails. Three or four sentences per email is enough to clearly get your message across.

Along with using time-blocking to stay on top of daily emails, you should also choose a time each week to maintain your inbox (delete the irrelevant, archive the complete, and prioritize the to-do list) as well.

  1. Turn Off Email Notifications

Even if you follow the above tip, the sound of your inbox notification might be too great a temptation to resist. So, what’s the solution then? Well, it’s simple: Turn off your notifications. Notifications distract you from doing what you are currently working on at your desk, by turning them off will keep you from getting distracted and will help you to adhere to your strict daily schedule for checking your emails.

Thank you for reading!