The Magic Tips to Keep Your Mailbox Clean

Manage your email like a pro with these email management tips and tricks.

These days, the majority of our most personal and important digital correspondence happens through e-mail, so it’s important to keep it organized.

Here are some tips for managing and cleaning up your inbox.

Email Management

Setup rules, filters, or labels

Today, all e-mail programs and online e-mail services have rules, filters, or a labeling system.

These features can be used to automate the organization and move of your e-mails in folders to make it easier to identify and manage e-mails. Use these features to organize your e-mail and get to what is most important first.

Below are some suggestions for rules that are worth trying first.

  • Move important and unimportant e-mails to a folder of their own.
  • Highlight or set priority to certain addresses. For example, a rule could be created to highlight any user in your address book.
  • Filter out common spam words that get into your inbox (e.g., Viagra) and check your program for spam filters already available.
  • In programs that support rules, mark messages that are not important to keep your inbox clean and prevent you from getting overwhelmed when you first open the e-mail.
  • If you are using Gmail it offers automatic filters to create tabs in your inbox to separate e-mails connected to social media, promotions and updates.
  • If you are getting lots of spam filter your e-mail through Gmail.
  • Always evaluate the opportunity to create a free Gmail account to be used when you register on sites so that all newsletters can be directed to this address. Be aware of what e-mail address you are providing to be sure to organize your communications accordingly.

An app that we suggest to evaluate is Boomerang that is a software that helps you focus on what matters.

Do not be afraid to delete

After reading e-mail, always take action on that e-mail. As a good rule, you should be scheduling in the day when to give attention to e-mails and take action.

If you are unable to take action on the e-mail, delegate it to someone else when possible, or if something needs to be scheduled create an action item on your to-dos and archive the e-mail.

Every e-mail does not need a response so just delete or archive based on the content of the email.

Automatic replies, FAQs, and canned responses

If you find yourself using the same reply over and over again, consider creating a list of your frequent replies that you can copy and paste. Or, try using tools such as Thunderbird Quicktext, Lifehacker Texter or AutoHotkey, or find others with a quick search on Google, to help make replying to these e-mails even faster.

Keep it simple

Often we feel that folders are a way to simplify, but very often they complicate our managing of e-mails because we have to think about what folder to use to archive each email. Keep it simple do not have dozens of different folders to organize your e-mail into.

If there is no way getting around your need for folders in the e-mail, use rules to filter your messages into folders. If a rule cannot be easily created, then there is something to review in the folders’ structure.

E-mail programs today have advanced search options that can always be used to identify the information we are looking for in our email.

Always do quick short replies

When replying to any of your e-mails try to keep the reply as quick as possible and do not spend too much time on an individual e-mail.

We suggest spending no more than five minutes on a single e-mail and avoid anything longer than three paragraphs.

Are you aware that e-mails are more effective in a low-context communication style?

You are e-mail is not a calendar or to-do list

Many times our inbox is full because we are treating e-mails as a calendar of things that we need to do.

There are separate options that are more effective in managing our schedule and to-do lists.

Internet and Email

Unsubscribe from newsletters and disable notifies

Although you may have had good intentions when subscribing to a newsletter or other e-mail list, these are often distracting and often clutter your e-mail. Unsubscribe from any newsletter you have not been reading.

The same is also true for social media notifications from Facebook and Twitter. Disable all notifications about posts made on your wall, new friends, or followers, which clutter your inbox and distract you.

Do not reply to spam

If spam sneaks past your protection or rules never reply to it; just delete the message and check your filters to be sure you can mark it as spam and move on.

Keep it but not too much

Try to read your e-mails at least once daily or every hour, depending on how much e-mail you receive.

However, do not live in your e-mail.

Create a schedule where you check your e-mail at regular intervals and then ignore it all other times. If you have any notification about new incoming e-mails disable these or close your e-mail program or e-mail web page.

Delete some more

Finally, if after following all the above steps you still have e-mails that are weeks old delete them. If you have a hard time deleting e-mails create a folder and move all old e-mails into that folder. After a few weeks have passed the e-mail becomes too old for a reply.