Get Organised: How to Clean Up Your Inbox

Maintaining our inboxes can sometimes be a struggle, especially when it becomes the last thing on our minds in the working day. However, with this mind-set, we could suddenly see ourselves dealing with an overflowing and unorganised mess of an inbox making it difficult to use. As much as this won’t be the case for some of us, we are all guilty of having emails in our inbox that could easily be deleted or archived.

It may be hard to believe, but in this day and age with an increased use of other forms of communication such as texting, chat and social networking, email continues to be the leading form of business communication. Did you know, in 2017, there was on average 225.3 billion emails sent and received per day worldwide, which will most likely keep growing each year.

Even outside of businesses, email addresses are essential for almost every kind of communication including social networks, online shopping sites and online banking - they all want to communicate with you by email. Whether it’s by a weekly newsletter or an offer on their products, you can see how thousands of emails can pile up in our inboxes.

Therefore, with it being ‘Clean Out Your Inbox Week’, we thought it might be the perfect time to have that clean-up of emails you’ve been telling yourself you’ll do tomorrow (and we all know tomorrow never comes!) So, here are some quick and easy tips on how to get organised.

1. Clear it out

You might take one look at your inbox and not know where to begin, so first things first, you need to identify what needs attention, what can be archived, and what can be deleted. In the workplace, you may have a number of emails that you’ve already dealt with which are just sitting in your inbox. Most of these emails could be deleted if the subject has been rectified, although, you might need to keep some email chains for any future references – so simply just archive these! This not only frees up space for the relevant emails coming in, it also keeps those emails in a handy place for you to easily find when they are needed.

2. Update your anti-virus software

Some of us might not realise how easy it is for emails to have viruses and malware attached to them, so when they end up in your inbox they could be potentially harmful. An email itself may not contain any malware, but it may include a link to a website that contains malware or an infected attachment. Therefore, these kinds of emails could be lurking about in your inbox without you even realising (especially in your ‘deleted items’ or ‘junk’ folders), and if you don’t have an organised system it might be hard to detect where the issues are coming from.

It is advised you delete any of these dodgy looking emails straight away, and double check you have updated anti-virus software to avoid your computer system being attacked.

3. Compartmentalise

Once you have an email inbox that doesn’t look as though it’s suffocating, you could possibly create some filters or think about having multiple email addresses. Filters are a brilliant way to automatically deal with incoming emails. You could have multiple filters for the less important emails such as newsletters, weekly updates and promotional offers that you can easily access whenever you want, rather than have them clog up your inbox and take away the attention from your more important emails.

On the other hand, having multiple email addresses does the exact same thing as filtering, but it just holds a more time-consuming process if you need to go from one email address to the next. You could have one email address for business, one for personal, and one for everything else (such as receipts, newsletters, etc) Using this process could eliminate any unwanted emails from your more important inboxes, such as your business one, and straight away you will know where to find certain emails if needed.

4. Block and unsubscribe

The biggest inbox clogger is the stuff you get on a recurring basis. This could be from newsletters, social media updates, and sites bringing you your daily deals. You might even be receiving emails from companies you didn’t intend on keeping – for example, you could have signed up for a one-time offer. Therefore, next time you delete these emails without opening them, take note of what you are actually deleting. If you find yourself deleting an email from the same source three times, you should then consider unsubscribing from their services.  

For those spam and junk emails you seem to always be receiving (and don’t even remember signing up for), you should consider blocking the sender. These kinds of emails are those that hold malware and potentially harmful links, therefore they should be avoided and blocked straight away.

5. Develop a system and stick to it

After all of this effort to organise your inbox, it would be a shame if you let it get back to its messy, unorganised state. Therefore, try and develop your own system for when you check your emails. Once you get yourself into the habit of blocking unwanted emails, archiving previous emails and unsubscribing the ones you don’t look at, you will find it gets easier to keep your system up to date and organised without it being a time-consuming project.

Perhaps you have a clear out of your inbox every Friday afternoon or fortnight, or you could even aim to file everything by the end of the day so you can easily see what’s more important than others. Either way, over time you can develop your own routine which will fit perfectly for you, hopefully keeping your inbox count to a minimum.

By Laura at 25 Jan 2018, 15:04 PM