6 Ways to Clear Your Inbox and Get the Messages You Want

management-1137648_960_720Does opening your inbox make you sick and tired?  Maybe it’s time for a detox.

The average person gets 88 emails a day. Between business, mailing lists, product offers and straight up spam – if you let a weekend go by, it takes an hour of your life to sort through it, and that’s before you’ve even read anything!

It’s time for a cleanse of your account, a reckoning, if you will, so as to move through the experience with as little friction as possible. Yes, this does require a slice of time, but once you do it, you will feel like you just took a virtual bath.

  1. Ditch your outdated platform.  Take a deep breath, and know that it is time to let go of the clunky old email service you’ve hung onto for way too long. If you are on Gmail or Outlook, or any other platform recommended for its efficiency, then great, one less thing.  But if the platform is part of the problem and you are hanging onto that old, personal account because you are afraid someone you haven’t heard from in 15 years might write, just migrate your contacts, notify whomever you can and keep the other account open for a few months just to clear away the possibility of stragglers.  Then you can shut it down.
  2. Set up a High Priority box. For Gmail, utilize a feature called Priority Inbox. This feature puts new emails in two different places within your inbox.  Personal messages go in one, and the other is for “social” mail, based on the sender and subject line. This saves you time skimming for the messages that need attention, rather than getting lost in a sea of daily deal offers and pleas for non-profit donations.
  3. Set up filters. Many email providers allow you to filter for certain types of emails. You can use these filters to do lots of things: apply a certain label to an email, automatically delete it, forward it, archive it and so on. So if you feel like shopping just go to that folder, peek at your messages and delete the rest.
  4. Discover Boomerang. If you aren’t using it, this plug-in for Firefox and Chrome with Gmail allows you even more elasticity, like scheduling when you send off email, bounce an email back to the top of your list (like when you get an invitation to a party) or bring an email to your attention if you have not received a reply to it after a certain number of days. In other words, Boomerang allows you to combine scheduling and your reminders more fluidly.
  5. That said, you can also use your calendar rather than your inbox. Not to tout Gmail too fiercely, but when you get an email that requires action, you can easily migrate the appropriate info over to Google Calendar, set up a reminder and then delete the email. 
  6. We’re sorry to see you go. Here’s where it gets tedious, but going through all those emails wouldn’t be necessary if you weren’t getting them in the first place.  Sit down with a really enjoyable beverage and unsubscribe to all the stuff you know you aren’t ever going to read, buy, or participate it. 

Just imagine how relaxing it will be to open your email, if you just do a bit of healthy, self-focus and assert a little more control over your messages.  Then you can treat yourself to a massage!