Email management is an area where I failed miserably and constantly for years.This summer I decided I’d finally had enough of seeing 1,000+ unread emails in my inbox, not to mention all the read ones I hadn’t deleted, moved, archived, etc. And that’s only one inbox! I have both a personal and a business address, so you can imagine how crazy it was.
I think I convinced myself that it would take too much time to manage my inbox on a regular basis, when really I created way more work for myself by only doing it once or twice a year. It was overwhelming. I think when I did it last spring, I spent three hours. Ridiculous!
I knew I had to stop viewing it as one of my little quirks and take it seriously. My lack of discipline coupled with an increase in email communication resulted in me missing a couple of opportunities and also offending people close to me because those important messages got buried in a sea of other unread ones.
While I may never deal with my inbox every day as some people do, I am committed to doing a checkup every two weeks or so to keep it under control. I’ve been in this routine for a couple of months, and I really do breathe easier now when using it.
If you’re currently on the email crazy train, here are a few tips to help you get on track.
Bulk Delete Emails
The method for doing this varies by device and email client, but you should at least be able to get onto a screen where you can mark a whole bunch of messages at once and delete them rather than going one by one. This is how it looks after I click Edit inside my inbox on my iPod. From this point, I just tick the empty circles to the left, click Move, and then Trash on the next screen.
On my PC, I use Thunderbird for email. First, I click the “From” button to get messages in alphabetical order by sender because I’ve found it’s easiest to use this field to figure out what needs to go. Here’s an example from this summer.
In this example, since I knew I didn’t need to archive any messages from Stitcher and that I would also be unsubscribing, I selected all of the messages by clicking on the first one, holding down the shift key, and then clicking on the last.
Then I pressed delete, and poof!
Manage Email Subscriptions
I recently signed up for Unroll.me, and wow! I could have been the case study for their intro video. Unroll.me scans your email account, tells you how many subscriptions you have (I had 229 just for my personal email!), and then lets you choose whether to unsubscribe, leave as is, or add to a daily digest called a “rollup.”
After I finished, I almost cheered to see those numbers! There were quite a few (mainly stores) that always piled up but that I didn’t want to unsubscribe from completely because of exclusive deals they send. So now I can just scan the digest each day to see if there’s anything worth noting.
Every time you subscribe to something new, Unroll.me catches it and it shows under the “New Items” count.
This process has allowed me to get rid of my inbox filters and their corresponding subfolders such as stores, deals, prints, etc., because now I’ll find all of those emails in the digest. No more piling up of daily messages in folders I don’t access unless I have a specific need. Now I have one folder for deals I think I might take advantage of before they expire and will go through it and clean it up on a monthly basis.
Designate Action Items
I don’t have a separate Action folder because I end up ignoring it, so I just keep messages that require a next step in my inbox and use Thunderbird’s tagging system that changes the color of the subject, from, and date text so that the message stands out visually. In the web version of gmail, you can star a message, mark it as important, or add to tasks.
There are always messages that I want to keep but don’t require action (sweet notes from friends or customers, information I may need again down the road, etc.) so I just archive those according to year so that I can still find them but they’re not cluttering my inbox.
I hope you were able to take away at least one action point from today’s post to help you manage your email. If there are other tools or methods you love to use, please tell me about them in the comments below. And don’t forget to pin and share!