We all know how important it is to declutter your things. There’s an entire movement surrounding the topic. Just look at the Marie Kondo phenomenon.
Decluttering your physical space is decluttering your mind, but we often forget the space in between: the digital space.
For most jobs these days, email is an essential tool. We receive emails from clients, bosses, and colleagues. Professionalism shows in the way we address these emails. They’re a big part of our lives.
It stands to reason, then, that the importance of decluttering our inboxes is just as important in order to work with a clear working mind.
Here are some steps to in decluttering your inbox:
1. Junk all messages you don’t need to keep.
Often, we leave our read messages in our inbox, even when we have no need for them. It’s time to start putting these messages in the non-recycling bin. Unless you’re paying for unlimited space in your email, these messages are just taking up unnecessary space, and are just a future nuisance for when you actually need to start sorting through the messages you need.
2. Unsubscribe from promotions you don’t follow.
We all have subscriptions to certain websites that we no longer follow. Maybe it’s because you grew out of it, the emails aren’t as useful as you thought they were, or maybe this was something you subscribed to in that one event where you had to subscribe to the newsletter before they could give you the freebie you wanted.
Stop the influx of messages you’re not really reading. You’re not doing anyone any favors. In fact, you might be affecting their email marketing stats negatively by leaving these messages unread. Unsubscribe from the email list. You should see the link at the bottom of their emails.
3. Create labels for your inbox and group the messages you need to keep.
Just like files have folders, emails have labels. Create them, pick a color for each label, then group the emails under their respective categories.
Once you’ve done this, make sure to archive these messages so that they can disappear from your inbox. No, archiving doesn’t mean deleting. You’ll still be able to find these emails through the search bar or if you look through the labels you created.
4. Archive everything else.
With that said, archiving is your best friend. Don’t know what to do with this email? Archive. You might need this email in the future? Archive. Just want to make your email list cleaner? Archive. The message doesn’t fall under any label? Archive anyway; it’ll still be there even when you can’t see it.
5. Keep the messages you need to reply to in your inbox.
By now, you should ideally only have a handful of messages left in your inbox. These are the emails that are high in your priority list and should be replied to immediately. If they’re more than a handful, then you should be replying to them, even if only to let them know you’ve read the email.
If you’ve done all that, congratulations! You’ve decluttered your inbox.
Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?
Patricia Li is a frequent contributor at WorkWise Asia and Familywise Asia. She loves to read and write, and tries to incorporate this in her career.