How to Declutter Your Email and Achieve Inbox Zero

by | Oct 15, 2020 | Child Care Strategies

If you’re anything like us, your digital desktop can be a scary place. Some days, you might even feel like a bit of a hoarder — how are you supposed to keep track of your important tasks and communications when you’re living in the digital equivalent of a messy room? That’s why we’re starting a new series here on the blog to help you Declutter Your Digital Life! Once a month, we’ll be sharing easy tips and processes you can implement into your workday to make it a little more organized and a little less chaotic.

Today, we want to talk about email. We all dream of ending the day with the elusive Inbox Zero, but as the week goes on, that seems less and less attainable. If you’re drowning in emails every day, we’ve got you covered.

1. Free yourself from emails you’re done with.

An empty inbox is the ultimate serenity, and there are a few ways you can achieve it. Firstly, you can delete your emails. This is the most permanent solution, and not one we necessarily recommend across the board. These days, most email clients give you a lot of storage, so save the delete button for emails you know you’ll never need to refer back to, and anything from more than seven years ago.

For repetitive emails that aren’t high priority, implement filters and folders. If you get a flood of important but not pressing notifications, have your email set to file them away from your inbox. We all know those routine receipts and notifications shouldn’t hold the same level of your attention as important communications from your team or clients. Most email clients let you set parameters based on things like sender, subject, or content to route the email somewhere else. When you have time to deal with those emails, you can open up a folder and see them all in one place.

For everything else, utilize the Archive feature. Make it your best friend! After you hit send on a reply, schedule the meeting, or complete the task at hand, archive it. There’s no reason to keep that message cluttering up your digital space — the next time someone replies to it and it needs your attention again, it will pop right up in your inbox.

2. Unsubscribe from everything you can.

No one knows how we become subscribed to so many newsletters and offer emails, but over the years it can pile up. Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe! Do you ignore, delete, or get annoyed every month when the sale notification from a store you went to once comes into your inbox? Opt-out! Usually, unsubscribe links are at the bottom of the email (they’re required by law to include one) but if the problem is bigger or you’d like to expedite the process, use a service like Unroll.me to unsubscribe en masse. It lets you see everything you have coming in and with one click opt-out for future emails. It’ll declutter your inbox immediately!

3. Use “priority inbox” features if available.

Most email clients now offer some level of automatic prioritization. Opting into these features means that your most important emails will be at the top of your inbox every time, ensuring you won’t miss things that require your attention. Oftentimes, they even put the other, less pressing things like social notifications and promotions into other tabs. We love that this feature makes Inbox Zero even easier to achieve, as you can make quicker decisions about archiving lower priority emails and deal with higher priority ones faster.

4. Limit the notifications you get.

Most people feel that notifications are more of a hindrance to their productivity than a tool — especially when it’s an unimportant email pinging during a Zoom call or important meeting. Do you need to be notified 24/7 of every email that comes in on both your phone and email? If your emails aren’t generally extremely time-sensitive (as in, you can wait an hour or two to deal with them), try turning off your push notifications entirely and instead set aside specific times during the day to check your email. If that’s too scary, ease in with a scheduled Do Not Disturb time frame on your device or on your inbox itself to give you a chance to work without distraction during certain chunks of the day.

We hope these tips take the weight of a cluttered inbox off your shoulders or at least help you to lighten the load — after all, your inbox is a sacred place! Stay tuned in the coming months for more tips on how to own and organize your digital life to boost your productivity and clear your mind.

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