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It’s Almost a New Year! Time to Clean Up Your Email Inbox

I write this post on December 28th, 2021 reflecting on the past year and gearing up for the next. And it’s time to clean up your email inbox. I love the fact that January 1st provides a set date to start over, but the truth is, you can do this at any time. So, if you’re reading this at a different point throughout the year, the advice and tips still apply.

If you’re anything like me, your email and phone notifications and inboxes are just filled to the brim. Now, I do my best to maintain a zero inbox and minimize any notifications that will disrupt my thought process. However, things sneak up over time and it’s important to do a reboot of your process if necessary. For me, it’s time to get my email back in order.

Why I’m Feeling This Way

Now, I only have a few emails in my inbox at the moment so you might think that I’m doing a great job at managing emails. However, over the past year, I have joined different newsletters and applied to various jobs. That means that the volume of emails I’m receiving is still pretty high. So even though I’m wading through them, it takes more time than I would prefer.

It’s also a reflective time of year that makes me evaluate all my systems as I think about the goals I want to achieve for the upcoming year. And one of my continuous life goals is to be more reflectively productive. Not just productive for productive’s sake, but being truthful with myself about what’s working, what’s not working, and what causes extra unnecessary tasks.

So, before you jump into overhauling your email inbox, make sure it’s a priority that will help you. I listened to Ali Abdaal’s recent YouTube video on how much money he spent and he made a point about the money he spends ordering takeout. Cooking is not a priority so time isn’t invested in doing it or learning how to do it better. Make sure to invest time in the things that are a priority for you.

time to clean up your inbox
Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on Pexels.com

Time to clean up your email inbox: Strategies to help you

  • Review any emails that come through a subscription
    • I often sign up for new things not realizing how many times per day or week the organization will email me.
    • Sometimes I change the settings to once a week
    • Other times I just decide not to get that newsletter anymore because it’s no longer helpful. Use the auto unsubscribe feature in GMAIL or go through the organization’s system.
  • Create filters
    • Not every email has to clog up the inbox upon arrival. You can create filters to send emails to folders. Or, have it enter with a label based on a specific sender.
    • Filters help create visual clues about important emails upon arrival. For example, you may have a client or boss that demands immediate responses. Create a filter so it stands out when you are glancing at your emails throughout the day.
    • You can also set up notifications so that it only interrupts your workflow if it is from certain people.
  • Archive old emails
    • If you want to get started with an inbox zero, then archiving everything is a way to start. If you are not sure how to get started, then follow this guide.
    • My personal email account had tens of thousands of emails before I started doing this. I signed up for it in 2005 and since it is my name, I have kept it ever since.
    • No one has the time to review thousands of emails so simply archive all of them and start doing inbox zero moving forward. They will still be accessible through search so nothing is actually deleted.
  • Set boundaries
    • Decide how often you plan to check your email.
    • Decide what devices you will keep your email on.
    • Decide if you will get notifications via a sound alert or banner.
    • Set personal time aside where you will not check your emails at all – perhaps even for a day or two.

Now, these are all suggestions I have incorporated into my own routines over the last few years. As with life, my process and systems ebb and flow to match my current endeavors and productivity needs.

Comment below with any helpful email tips to start the new year!

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