3 Easy Ways to Take Control of Your Inbox Now

10/05/2015 03:10 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

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Is your inbox out of control? Does the thought of even opening your mail folder fill you with stress and dread? You're not alone.

Inbox overwhelm is practically a national pastime these days. We're switched on and plugged in all the time. We're constantly seeking information so we can do more, be more, achieve MORE. It's not a wonder many of us can't keep up with our incoming messages.

If you're feeling less than happy about the state of your emails, here are 3 quick and easy ways you can take control of your inbox now.

1. Clear it out

Step one is to get into your inbox and clear out the junk. Take some time to scroll through your emails and delete the stuff that doesn't matter. Be ruthless here - if it's over 2 weeks old, you haven't read it and it doesn't need to be actioned or replied to, then delete it. Let go of FOMO (fear of missing out) and embrace the space.

It's important to note here that if you have hundreds or maybe thousands of emails in your inbox, you might need to do this in stages. If you can dedicate a chunk of time to it great but if not aim for 5 to 10 minutes a day until you've cleared the backlog.

2. Unsubscribe

This tip comes courtesy of social media maven Elizabeth Kelsey Bradley of Savouring Simplicity and it's the good old unsubscribe.

You know what I'm talking about! That newsletter you subscribed to just for the irresistible freebie, the weekly business tips you never have time to read but save for 'later' anyway, or the blog you used to devour daily but haven't read in ages.

If your inbox is clogged with things you're not reading, remove yourself from the list. I know this can sometimes feel uncomfortable (especially women) - you don't want to offend or hurt anyone's feelings by unsubscribing, but please believe me that no one will be upset. Remember, you can always keep up to date on social media or by visiting their website from time to time. This is about creating space in your inbox and reducing the amount of emails coming in each day.

3. Set up action folders

This tip has been an absolute life saver for me and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Think about a time when you had 15 minutes and wanted to reply to a few emails. Did you go into your inbox and end up clicking around? Did you get side tracked by newsletters, discount offers, amazing free webinar sign ups or that hilarious email from a friend about cats riding skateboards? We've all been there. Suddenly you look at the clock, your 15 minutes is up and you've replied to exactly ZERO emails.

Instead of getting lost in your inbox, try creating action folders. The ones I use are called "To Read", "To Do" and, "Reply To These". As emails come in that I need to action, I file the relevant emails into one of these folders. What this means is when I only have 10 minutes and I want maximum productivity, I can go straight to my "Reply To These" folder, find the oldest message and reply. No distractions, no clicking around - I get more done and it makes managing my inbox so much easier. Try it and let me know what you think!


Sarah Jensen is a writer, speaker and life coach at SarahJensen.com.au and the creator of the Rock Your Goals workshop and online program. She helps big hearted bloggers, dreamers, entrepreneurs and business mavens rock their goals and live their life, their way on their terms. For updates and inspiration sign up now.