Confession time. My inbox at the moment is a mess. In fact, when a friend saw that I had 7664 unread emails in my inboxes (across four different email accounts), she let out a loud gasp. It’s not quite as bad as it seems, as many of them are press releases and general sale emails that I automatically divert to other sub-folders and dip in an out of. But it’s hardly what I’d call productive either.
So, I’ve come up with a five step strategy to get my email healthy again. I’m not talking inbox zero healthy (I’m realistic, that’s never going to happen for me), but 80% organised would be marvellous.
- Update my sub-folder rules – This one is going to be a half day job. Currently, I have a group of rules that automatically sort some of my emails. LinkedIn emails into one folder, any emails containing the term ‘sale’ in the subject into another folder and so on. The trouble is, it’s often a case of out of sight, out of mind. So I need to go through those folders, and assess which emails I need to remain subscribed to. Which brings me on to…
- Unsubscribe – I’m aiming for five unsubscribes a day. Should only take me a couple of minutes each day, so totally doable.
- Unroll – Unroll.me is a tool where you can collate all your emails into one long email you receive each morning. You can also unsubscribe to regular newsletters from the site, so it’s a big time saver. Having everything in one email often reminds you how little some emails contribute to your life – and how little you’ll miss them if you unsubscribe. This will probably take 1-2 hours to fully complete.
- Use Gmail? Ok, take a deep breath, hover over ‘Inbox’ on the left, and choose ‘Unread first’. This scared the sh*t out of me. And I also discovered a few important emails that I’d completely missed beforehand. All those tabs for social/discussion etc might be handy, but they also lead to you missing out on a lot of good stuff. If you get a lot of emails, ‘Unread first’ will do you more favours in the long run. This…this is a day long job.
- Once your email is in a little better shape, try to keep it that way. My aim is to stick with the rule of ‘delete or deal with it’. I have a tendency to check my emails on the go, forget about them and then forget to reply later. So the only way I can see myself dealing with this, is if I limit how often I check it. My first step to doing this, is to take my mail app on my phone, and hide it away in the back of a sub-folder. Hopefully that will stop me checking it so much on impulse!
One last thing. Last weekend, I removed my mail app from the bottom toolbar on my iPhone, and hid it away in a folder on the third page. This has really helped me reduce how often I check my email by impulse.
Ideally, I want to have all of this done by the end of February.