Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Raise your hand if you if you struggle to stay on top of mail – both physical and email. Raise your hand if you have ever heard of inbox zero and have been upset with yourself for failing to achieve it. You’re not alone.
September marks new beginnings and with new beginnings comes the opportunity to take stock. It’s an opportunity to ask yourself the question: what do you want taking up space in your life and what do you not? I want 20 minutes playing with my toddler. I do not want 20 minutes deleting emails I never wanted to receive. How do I achieve this goal?
Here are some tips and tricks to move you towards inbox manageable:
Tailor your approach: recognize that you are a unique person with a unique brain and just because it works for your friend, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Starring emails work for some but not everyone. I always bcc myself on work emails so that I can see what I sent out. Again, that works for me and not for everyone. I want you to take this opportunity to think about which, if any, of those suggestions feel good to you. Trial and error is a good way to start.
Stem the flow: the best way to deal with email is to stop it from coming in the first place. Imagine that you’re in a store, checking out and the cashier asks you for your email. Practice with me, ‘I do not wish to provide my email.’ For those of you who feel guilty saying this, try to remember that this employee is most likely not offended and probably also has a gazillion marketing emails coming into their inbox. There are very few stores where giving your email is required. There are also people who provide an alternative email address in stores and if that works for you, great!
Unsubscribing: just like physical mail, you probably only need about 1/3 of the emails that come to you. The rest can be unsubscribed from. Unsubscribing is easier said than done; it’s a lot quicker to delete the email and move on with your life. If you have ten minutes right now, pull up your email, set a timer and go. The unsubscribe button can sometimes be found at the top of the email. More often it’s buried at the very bottom in light colored ink. And more annoyingly, there are often a few steps to complete to officially unsubscribe. I know. Ask yourself, would you rather do something you don’t want to do a few times a day or say once every two weeks for 20 minutes. There’s no wrong answer.
Spam: rather than unsubscribing from spam, mark as spam and delete. Sometimes unsubscribing from it can compromise your email account. What do you do if you don’t know whether or not it’s spam? If it looks like spam, err on the side of caution and mark it as spam.
Categorize: once you’ve decluttered your email you’ll notice that some of what’s left you need, and some you don’t. Just like physical mail, there are certain items you need to deal with and move on and certain items that it makes sense to hold on to. For those items it makes sense to hold onto, I love a folder. It’s important to remember that for most people if you don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. Meaning that the only thing that should go into folders is something that has been dealt with. Otherwise it most likely needs to stay in your inbox where it is visible and annoying.
If you’ve jumped on the unsubscribing bandwagon and are raring to go, here are some resources for you:
Opt-Out Prescreen – this is the official Consumer Credit Reporting Industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to opt-in or opt-out of firm of credit or insurance.
National Do Not Mail List – sign up here (for free) to take your name off direct mail lists
Try my tips above and let me know how it goes! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Instagram @toritheorganizer