Ah, the inbox. It’s one of those places that many of us spend so much of our time. Unfortunately, this familiar space is often one of disorganized chaos as well.
Case-in-point, for the last month or so, my email inboxes (personal, work, and blog) were out of control. They overflowed with special offers and updates, which often meant the important information got buried amidst the noise.
Can you relate?
If so, then you’re probably not surprised to learn that this clutter can simultaneously increase your stress levels while decreasing your productivity; and this is especially true if email is a significant component of your job.
But don’t worry, there’s good news here, too.
Over the last few weeks I started using five email organization strategies that helped me get my inbox under control, and today I’m excited to share those tips with you.
Let’s do this!
5 Easy Email Organization Strategies
Unsubscribe from Junk Mail and Advertisements
Unsubscribing from unnecessary emails may seem like an obvious suggestion, yet how many of us continue to click “delete” rather than “unsubscribe” on that constant stream of junk landing in our inbox each day? It’s such a little step, but think about the positive long-term effects it will have when those dozens of unnecessary messages stop landing in your inbox.
Alternatively, you can sign up with a website called Unroll.me, which is a free service that delivers a “round-up” of your subscription emails each day in one tidy email. I love it!
Create Folders and Categories
Many email providers allow you to create folders and tabs within your inbox. By sorting messages into different groups or categories, you can easily find the messages you need when you need them while reducing the visual clutter of your inbox. Take a few minutes to create separate folders and then get sorting!
Use Tags and Labels
While folders are helpful for keeping your messages organized, they are less useful when one message fits into multiple categories. By applying tags to your emails, however, you can mark them so they are sortable later. You can also assign multiple tags to a single message, which allows you to reference them for different situations.
For example, I might receive an email with information about a meeting, but it also has resources attached in a document. By tagging the email with both “meeting” and “resources,” the email will come up when I search for both terms.
Archive and Search Your Email
Your inbox has a search bar, which you can use to find important emails quickly. Simply type in a name, email address, or phrase that you remember from the email, and the ones that match your search will pop up.
I love using this trick for student emails. As you might imagine, I get emails from my students throughout the week about anything and everything: why they missed class, a late assignment, questions about the coursework, etc. I don’t want to keep these emails in my inbox after responding to them, but I also don’t want to click “delete” in case I need them later for reference. So instead, I click “archive.”
With this approach, if I ever need to reference a particular student’s assignment or count up their absences, I can enter their name in the search bar, look through the archive, and find the important emails quickly.
Set Up Filters
Many email providers let you set up filters that automatically organize incoming messages into specific groups. For example, if you’ve unsubscribed from an email, but the company continues to send information (I’m looking at you Self Magazine!), you can set up a filter that automatically pushes their email to the “junk” folder.
Additionally, you can use filters to sort incoming messages into different folders depending on the sender, subject, or keywords. This is a great time saver, as you don’t have to sort through the emails yourself, first. Yes, please!
There you have it: 5 simple email organization strategies just for you. While setting up these tools may take a few minutes, the amount of valuable time you will save in the long run is well worth it. Give them a try today!
You might also enjoy: How to Write Clear and Efficient Emails in 8 Easy Steps
What are your favorite email organization strategies? Are you overwhelmed by emails? Share your thoughts below!