E is for Email
Trying to reach inbox zero?
I rarely hit that goal, but I do keep my email inbox, for both personal and work emails, in good order.
Generally, around 25 emails lurk in my inbox.
I've followed the advice about turning off notifications, unsubscribing, using a label/filing system, and even creating templates for standard responses or email blasts.
I've written in more detail about my overall process in my post Digital Clean Up! Seven Steps to Conquer Your Email Inbox.
I follow those steps regularly, and they keep me on track. However, they are the support system that keeps my email inbox trimmed.
The main reason I can keep my inbox so organized is because I set a weekly reminder to cull my inbox back to 25 or fewer messages.
That's my trick.
And it works!
...because I stick to my weekly culling. I kind of love getting rid of the clutter.
- On Friday afternoons, I don't leave work until my email inbox has 25 or fewer emails floating around for the next week. I label and archive into folders. I respond. I take action and delete. Or I just delete because I forgot to earlier.
- Same process with my personal email. For a while, I had my personal email culling reminders set as monthly tasks. However, as I subscribed to more and more bookish communities, newsletters, and alerts, I found myself accumulating more emails in my inbox, so I knew I had to adjust that reminder to weekly as well.
Now this process works for me because I've always been an email deleter. I've consistently been the person who doesn't want to see the number 3,455 in parentheses next to the label INBOX. I would freak out!
If you're of a similar mindset, but you do have hundreds of emails in your inbox, I'd start with a daily deleting/archiving session. Just a few minutes a day and you'll have those emails in check before you know it.
However, if you're the person with thousands of emails, including hundreds or maybe even thousands that have not been read, then I would make sure you understand every search feature within your email client.
And use those features to your advantage, so you don't have to scroll through pages and pages of messages. Sending emails with detailed/specific subject lines would be helpful as well, mainly for those future search terms. Finally, be okay with having an inbox of everything. As long as you can find what you need, your system works for you.