It happens to the best of us; we try to stay on top of our emails, but they pile up. Before you know it, you’ve got thousands of unread emails hogging space in your inbox. It can be overwhelming and who has time to sort through every single message? If you find yourself buried under a mountain of bold subject lines, all demanding attention, there’s good news! By following a few simple guidelines, you can easily get a handle on your inbox and reduce it from a mountain to a molehill.
Your best friend in the battle against inbox flooding is your email provider’s search field. When you shop, whether it’s online or in person, companies identify you with your email address. Many companies also share your email address with their affiliate companies. So, if you’ve sent flowers for Mother’s Day, you may end up receiving emails not only from the florist, but also the boxed chocolate company they share information with. One great way to get rid of loads of unwanted emails is to type Chocolate Box Company, for example, into your search. Then, you can delete all of the emails from that sender in one fell swoop.
If you need help sorting your emails quickly try searching for the words “coupon”, “deal” or “sale”. You’ll be amazed how many of these may have slipped through the cracks and can now simply be deleted.
But before you delete that big chunk of messages, open one and check the bottom of the email for a way to unsubscribe from their mailing list. Sometimes the unsubscribed link will direct you to an “account management” page. There, you should be able to set your preferences to the level of communication you want to receive from that company. Often, you can eliminate their marketing emails, while still receiving messages about your account or receipts.
If you are using email from Google, Yahoo, iCloud, AOL or Outlook.com, you can also try a service called Unroll.me to help you unsubscribe from various emails.
Not only will the service help you sort all of your subscriptions into one place for fast unsubscribe it’ll roll up all of your newsletters and email notifications such as Facebook messages into one email each day.
Instead of receiving several emails each day from various services, reading them, then deleting them you get one message that you read and then delete.
You can also help sort out where these emails are coming from if you are Gmail user as you are ordering products or services. Take your email address and add a + sign at the end and a unique word for that merchant. For example, if you are buying flowers add [email protected] and when the email comes in you’ll know exactly where they got your address from and can even sort them further.
When it comes to emails, you’ll never need to see again, delete them. You won’t need to see this week’s coupon at Papa John’s next week. It’ll be expired. Unless you plan on using the coupon the week, it is valid for just immediately delete the email.
Now that you’ve got a load of junk mail cleaned out of your inbox, it’s time to organize what you want to save. Another great tool most email providers offer is a file system. This allows you to break up the larger bulk of your inbox and separate out what’s important and what can be saved for later. There are several ways to organize a file system, depending on whether you use your email address for personal or business purposes. How you set up your file system is, of course, up to personal preference.
One good organizational method is to create files for messages from particular senders. For instance, that email from Mom, thanking you for the flowers, can go into a Mom folder, while that bad joke your brother sent can go into the file marked “Adam.” Another great idea is to segregate your emails by purpose. Use folders marked for utilities, family, job offers, product receipts, or new account confirmations to sort out incoming messages. Most providers also let you set up rules so that incoming messages can automatically be directed to the appropriate folder before it hits your inbox.
So now you’ve cleaned and sorted, what’s next? Well, the best way to keep things from piling up again is to build a habit of regularly attending to your inbox. Whether you choose to check your email in the morning when you first sit down at your desk, or in the evening after dinner, checking in with your inbox routinely will help keep it from filling up again.
If you can take ten minutes every Friday in the afternoon to just check and clean out messages, you’ll find it even easier to keep on top of the emails.