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Do you feel overwhelmed looking at your inbox after being away from your email for a couple of hours or days?  It may feel like you will never get through them all but you will!  You shouldn’t have to feel that way  Your job can be demanding, which is why it's imperative you keep your inbox organized. If your emails are organized it can help with your stress level because you don’t want to feel like the guy below.


Do you have trouble keeping your inbox organized?

Here are a few things that you can do to organize your inbox 

1) Clear out your inbox: It may seem like an overwhelming task but it will be worth it in the end.  Your inbox is meant for new mail.  Delete any emails that you never want to look at (junk, spam).  The next step would be to create folders and file emails in the appropriate folder.  You can make client folders, vendor folders, etc.  With folders you can always go back and find an email that you got several months ago without it being in your inbox.You can also create sub-folders.  Be careful with how many folders you have because too many will clutter the inbox and you DON’T want that!

A.  Emails to keep in your inbox: If the email needs a response or you need to work on something you can keep it in your inbox. You can flag these messages so they don’t get lost in all the other emails.

B.  File: If you have responded to the email but need to keep it for future reference file it in a folder.

C.  Delete: If you don’t need an email for future reference or if it is junk delete the email.

2)  Unsubscribe: Go through emails that are currently in your inbox. If there are any that you don’t read on a regular basis or are not of interest to you then unsubscribe. Also, if you delete emails without even opening them unsubscribe.

3)  Defer Emails: You can defer an email by setting a reminder and read / perform the task at a later time. If an email will take you more than five minutes you need to move it to a to-do list.

To Do This (in Outlook):keeping-outlook-organized

  1. Right click on the email
  2. Select Follow Up
  3. Select Add Reminder (you can choose: Read, Follow Up, Forward, Reply)
  4. Select Start and Due Date
  5. Set a Reminder Date & Time

4)  Make a Rules Rule: You can create a rule to file the emails and it will go directly to the folder and NOT your inbox.  With the rule you can set it up by sender or subject and have a specific action performed.

  1. If you use Outlook click the link to help you create rules
  2. If you use Gmail click the link to help you create rules .
  3. If you use Mac email click the link to help you create rules.

5)  Short emails are better/Call instead of emailing if too long:email outlook organizing

Say what you mean, make sure you are clear in what you are asking/looking for and keep it as short as you can. Emails shouldn’t be longer than two paragraphs.If the email will be longer than that it is best to call the person. An example of that would be If a team member sends you emails a lot that are long and you keep going back and forth with answers or questions. If you do that it will clutter your inbox even more and you don’t want that!

6)  Check emails at certain times:  You shouldn’t check your email every time an email comes in.  That takes you away from what you are doing at that moment and can distract you.  Take a certain amount of time each day to check your email. You could check it first thing in the morning, at lunch time and right before you leave.

I hope these tips help you get your inbox organized.  Do you know someone who needs help organizing their inbox? Share this article.

Is there a tool or strategy you use that is not listed? Please let us know in the comments.