10 Ways to Keep Your Inbox Neat


Who hasn’t felt frustrated while attempting to sort through their mailbox? Due to the many things I do and the people I communicate with online, I get close to 400 emails daily. Only a tiny percentage of them pique my curiosity; most don’t.

Discipline is essential to maintaining order in your inbox and other electronic correspondence. That’s right, some good, old-fashioned punishment! You must have a plan that you stick to religiously. There are several actions you may take after checking your e-mail that will help you deal with the influx of data.

What should we do? Let’s start making plans.

First, put that DELETE key to good use! Check the SUBJECT: field if you are unsure of the sender. Is it filled with strange symbols, meaningless alphabetic, or illogical nonsense? Delete! Don’t be fooled by the SUBJECT: fields that say something interesting only a friend or business associate would say.

None of the senders of these emails is anybody you know personally or with whom you regularly do business. They come from spammers, the worst type, who assume you are too stupid to realize that the emails they send you are not legitimate. The email should be deleted immediately if the SUBJECT: field is blank or the sender is unknown.

Step 2: Decide what to do with the remaining e-mails after you’ve gone through all your new e-mails and implemented the procedures in Step 1. Is there more than one message from the same sender in your inbox? Do you receive frequent emails from businesses? Do you need to maintain a copy of some emails but not others because of the seriousness of the subject matter?

Here’s when filtration systems come in handy. You may sort your incoming and outgoing messages in Outlook using filters or Rules. Emails can be sorted into topical or contact-based folders as they are downloaded. You’re already ahead of the game in terms of efficiency.

A “Mom” filter can be set up to direct all messages from Mom to a particular folder. You can create filters to have emails from specific financial sites sent to a separate inbox. Separate directory for your preferred online hangout. Information from your financial institutions can be sorted into subfolders labeled “Annuity,” “CDs,” “Stock,” and “Bonds” automatically. Anything is possible.

Use filters to sort your incoming messages into different folders on your computer. You’ll only have to deal with the problematic statements in your inbox, not the ones you specifically asked for or expected. Once configured, filters will continue to function indefinitely unless deleted.

Another application for those filters, eh? Not only do filters sound better than sliced bread, but they also allow you to direct unwanted messages directly to the trash can. When I get an email advertising an enhancement product or an explicit website, I immediately delete it. It is possible to set up filters to delete any email with clear language in the subject line or body if downloaded.

Now, please return to your inbox. We’ve implemented filters to sort your incoming email into relevant categories, so you can read only the messages you’re interested in when you have time. Your inbox should now contain the unwanted email. Start reviewing your e-mail after you’ve done the first thing on the list.

Stop now and create a folder and filter to accommodate future e-mails from a new mailing list you have subscribed to and plan to get regular e-mails from. Those emails will go directly into a separate folder based on a filter you create (an email address typically works well) for future downloads. Follow this procedure for any contact or topic you anticipate receiving frequent emails from.

Five, digest and purge. As time allows, go through your inbox and remove any messages that aren’t worth retaining. Finally, make sure you’re taking out the trash regularly. Overwhelming amounts of email attachments are a significant drain on computer resources. Eliminating the unnecessary clutter and resource waste of old emails is a good first step.

Email allows you to prioritize messages and respond at a time that’s convenient for you. When opening a specific folder, several email clients will enable you to color-code your notes. You could, for instance, use labels to see how you’ve ranked various responsibilities quickly. Let’s use a traffic light system: red means now, blue means later, and yellow means maybe. When you open the mailbox, it’s immediately apparent which messages are top priorities and which can wait till later.

Trash should be emptied daily, but before doing so, you should check it to ensure none of your filters have mistakenly flagged any messages you didn’t intend to delete. This occurs frequently! Ensure no important messages you want to read got lost in the shuffle by giving them a quick once-over before you delete them.

Make a file and label it “Follow-Up,” “Interesting,” or “To Do” (8). Here you can store messages from your inbox that piqued your curiosity, but you didn’t have time to read thoroughly right away. Then, when you have some free time, you may browse through that folder and read any emails worth preserving. However, once you’ve looked them through, you may move them to another folder or throw them away.

If you don’t want your inbox to become cluttered, clear it out every day. Emails can be discarded, filed, or moved to a “To Do” folder before being deleted. If an email has been in your “To Do” folder for more than 90 days, it’s probably outdated and should be deleted. Doing so daily ensures that your inbox is always clutter-free and that your inboxes are well-organized.

Ten. Why are there so many file cabinets? Use as many folders as you need to stay organized, and give them whatever names make sense to you at a glance. Each user of this system has their own set of phrases and methods that work best for them.

When put into practice regularly, the ten suggestions above will do wonders for your inbox. With little self-control, you can spend less time managing your inbox and more time doing more important things, like responding to your inbox.

Judith Kallos has been performing at TheIStudio.com for over a decade, and she is known as an expert and a good time. For more on proper email etiquette, visit her blog at BusinessEmailEtiquette.com.

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