There are two people in this world. Those who hit inbox zero on the daily, and those who seem to have to wade through thousands of emails just to find the one they’re looking for. Jumping ship from inbox zero to extreme email hoarder isn’t hard, but doing the reverse is more difficult than letting go of a chocolate addiction. As my mum and I would argue, “it’s just in our genes”. However, I’m the kind of girl that once I set my mind to something, I have to fix it. So I’m here to share some tips on tackling that overwhelming inbox. Let’s Marie Kondo that inbox!
Ps. If you didn’t get my Marie Kondo reference, then my-oh-my I need to educate you in the art of ‘tidying up’.
The first key point when it comes to managing your inbox is this: the number of emails you receive is pretty much irrelevant. Whether your work means you have 40 new emails each morning when you sit at your desk, then so be it. At the end of the day, it comes down to time management. If you manage your time well and handle your emails while they’re still relevant and recent, then you prevent yourself from getting to the stage where your inbox is overwhelming in the first place.
Have you checked out our other time management blog posts? You can find them here and here.
However, I do have one top tip for reducing the number of emails you receive. Although it won’t help you prevent annoying people from work constantly emailing you, it will cut down the number of email subscriptions your account is linked to. No more harassing sales emails or communication from websites you signed up to and forgot to opt out of their emails! There is a great website called ‘Unroll’ where you simply enter your email address and it will show you all the email databases your email is on! It’s sort of shocking the first time you try it because you suddenly realise how much sites you signed up to and gave your details too. But the best part is you have the ability to unsubscribe from any of the databases you no longer want to receive communication from. Basically, once Unroll shows you what email subscriptions you are linked to you have 3 options.
You have the ability to customise your Rollup and decide when you wish to receive it (in the morning, afternoon or evening) and how you wish it to be set out. Under the settings, you’ll find these customisation options as well as the ability to Opt Out of Ad Tracking - thought I’d point this out because some people get a little worried about privacy.
It’s important to note here, Unroll doesn’t go through your personal emails. Their algorithms are designed to only pick up on commercial and transactional emails. By transactional I mean shipping confirmations, online returns or purchase receipts. On their website, Unroll thoroughly details what data they use and how they use it. Simply put, Unroll uses the data from commercial and transactional emails to tell data stories and show the changing trends in e-commerce. As someone who’s studying Digital Business, it’s amazing to see the results and graphs they can draw from this. However in an age where privacy is so important, I wanted to just explain how Unroll manages and uses data so that you were crystal clear!
Personally, I love Unroll because of how easy it makes it to hit inbox zero on a daily basis and prevent my inbox from getting crowded with advertising. It gives me the ability to take control, and decide which emails I’d rather only see in a single email which I can quickly skim through if I have time, and which emails I’d prefer to receive right when they were sent to me.
Another key tip to managing your inbox is having a great email system. Whether you’re addicted to your Gmail and using the Gmail app, or you haven’t branched off the mail application which came with your laptop/phone, it’s important to note that there are other options out there which help encourage you to manage your inbox and actually make it easier to do so. I love an app called ‘Polymail’ and now use it on both my iPhone and Mac. It’s super easy to use and allows me to manage multiple email accounts with ease. You can simply link your current email account to the application and receive emails as you always did. However, the unique thing about Polymail is the control buttons you have! Right from when you read an email, the application encourages you to do something with it rather than just throw in back into the pile. You can Archive, Notify to Read Later, Trash, Move to a Specific Folder, Mark as Read, Mark as Important and most importantly Unsubscribe! This is a great way to continue to manage your subscriptions after doing a big clear out using Unroll. Not to mention, the display of the application is really clear and easy to use - especially when you’re writing emails!
Now that we have the basics covered, here are 5 quick tips to help you on your merry way to a life of inbox zero bliss:
1. Send fewer emails, and if you have to send one, send a better one: basically, screw those emails that are the pointless little ‘Thank You!’ replies. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Only send emails when you have to. However, when you do, just stick to the facts. Not only are people more likely to respond, but it also makes it easier for you to accomplish what the email is required for and move on. If you need a quick reply, put a time frame in your email like ‘I need to know by 5 pm’. Not only does this communicate more clearly, but also encourages the receiver to prioritise you!
2. If your inbox is super overwhelming (like you’re 13,000 emails deep), make a damn cleansing plan: if your goal is to get as close to inbox zero as possible (first of all, I’m super proud) then you’re going to have to set aside some time. Maybe cancel Netflix night tonight and just try to get your shit together in the inbox department instead! Then, become best friends with the ‘Delete’ button and see how much you can get rid off. Be ruthless, it’s necessary. Next, set up a filing system for all the emails you have to keep. I have ones for Work, School, Online Shopping and To-Do. Finally, reply to all the people you’ve been ignoring!
3. Tackle your inbox in the morning or the evening: you’re less likely to receive more emails while you’re trying to sift through them, also less likely to get distracted.
4. Once you’ve done a cleanse and your inbox is more organised, set time aside every day (or every week if you don’t receive that many emails) to go through your inbox and clean it. This is an important tip because without this you’ll just fall into old habits. It only has to take a few minutes!
5. Delete from your Notification Screen: recently I’ve been really loving just deleting my emails as they appear in my notifications. I can quite easily tell which ones aren’t urgent and really don’t need my attention so I delete them before I even see them hit my inbox!
Has this inspired you to tackle your inbox? If so, I really hope these tips make the process a whole lot easier and less frightening. Once you have cut the emails down to the ones which are actually relevant, then it’s only easier from there!
Good luck to everyone who is about to fall head first into their cluttered inbox, I promise you you’ll feel so much better when you come out the other side!
From our home to yours,
Hi there! Thanks for checking out the Live Lively blog. I am so excited to share my passion for productivity, personal growth and wellbeing!