One of the issues many of my clients face is an overwhelming inbox. Aside from the mental stress this causes, if you’re using a mail client such as Outlook, having a bloated inbox can slow down your mail program’s performance and cause your computer to seem to be running more slowly. Here are some tips to manage your inbox.
Create and use folders. Create folders in your inbox for items that you need to save, but don’t need to see every time you check your mail. That way you don’t waste time looking at and mentally processing the same emails over and over. Look at the email once, and take action. If it’s something you need to deal with later, or would take more than a minute of your time and focus, then put it in a folder that you can check regularly. I frequently send emails to my calendar or tasks so I am reminded to deal with them without seeing them every time I open my inbox.
Clean up attachments. Avoid using your inbox as a filing cabinet. Download larger attachments and either delete the email or at least delete the attachment from the email. (You can do this easily in Outlook.)
Bottoms up. Once a week clean out your inbox from the BOTTOM up – starting with older items. I’ve found this trick forces me to deal with the stuff on the bottom first, while I’m still feeling motivated to clean up.
If you have other ideas on controlling clutter in your email inbox, let’s hear them!