For about a week now, I have been going through my personal Gmail account and decluttering, deleting, unsubscribing – you name it, I’ve been doing it. I started with over 7,000 messages in my inbox and I have slowly withheld it down to 6,137. That might seem like a good chunk, but it can be very time consuming once you’re looking through old archived messages.
What worries me is, like many of you, I have more than one email address. This should be the most cluttered (and why I chose to start here) because it’s what I use for all the random sign-ups on the internet, and now even in some stores (more on that later).
I have a plan to clean it all up (hopefully get to Inbox zero) and I’m sharing a few tips that are helping me get there.
- Set a Goal: I’m VERY big on planning things out in my planner and this project is no different. I’ve set up a goal to clear 200 emails per day. At this rate, I should get through my inbox in less than 30 days.
- Take Action on All Items: I’ve been guilty of glancing at a message and just putting it off for another time, but this is one of the worst habits in email management. Take action right away and figure out how to get it out of your inbox.If it’s an email you need to respond to, do it. If you can’t just yet, start a draft replay message and delete the original. Then mark your calendar to get it done this week.
If it’s a newsletter consider unsubscribing. If you still want the subscription, consider receiving notices less often (many have options). Most importantly – read it and delete it.
Another option is to move messages to a “Read in Jan” folder in your email. Be sure to delete January messages the following month and rename the folder each month to the current month.
Consider printing emailed coupons and saving emailed photos locally so you can promptly delete the email message. If you sing up for a coupon, a lot of times there is a text to phone alternative. Unsubscribe after you get the coupon.
- Set Limits: Limit your time spend on emails. Limit the people and businesses to which you give your email address to.While I’m taking on this project, I’m setting my time limit to 30 minutes a day. Once I’m done cleaning my inbox, that time will be cut in half.
Another important factor is the time of day you check your email. It’s natural for us to be inclined to check email first thing in the morning, but that’s actually not what I suggest.
Checking email is a fairly low-brain task so doing it in my afternoon slump is best. I also live on the east coast so responding to emails between noon and 1 gets messages to the west coast after people are generally up and doing business.
Don’t give your email address at the counter while shopping just because – unless I’m getting an emailed receipt to save paper clutter, I just say no thanks.
Set Goal. Take Action. Set Limits.
I’d love for you to take on your inbox with me so I’m sharing a worksheet you can use to keep track of your progress. Come back and let me know how it’s going!
I’ll plan to touch base with you in the first week of February so we can see how we do 🙂