Are you starting the year with inbox zero or do you have a stream of unread, unwanted emails carrying over from 2023?

I am sure we can agree that most of us have inbox fatigue and that it is a productivity drain, often making us feel stressed as the number of emails can relate to tasks not actioned.

It is not uncommon to see clients with multiple hundreds and thousands of emails in their inbox and although reducing can take a bit of time it will be worth the effort, reducing our overwhelm.

Whether you block out a few hours to attack at once or schedule in 30 minutes blocks over the coming weeks. It is surprising how much you can achieve with either option, but starting as soon as possible is recommended.

There are literally dozens of naming conventions for email organisation and as with everything, not one size fits all so it will largely depend on the volume you receive,  how you manage any paper clutter you currently have (both filing systems should be similar if not the same) and clincher is – ease of use.

If the system you implement is too challenging or time consuming to maintain you won’t continue and end up back at square 1.

  • Begin with sorting emails “from” and start by looking at all those that are marketing that you never read. Click on one and unsubscribe, then delete all of them from that sender. This is an easy step and can reduce the inbox total significantly, unless you are diligent and do this on a regular basis.
  • Have a look and see if you are receiving emails as part of a “cc or bcc” thread that you can request to be removed from if the content is not relevant.
  • Then sort your emails by “subject” and see if you have multiple emails in the same thread. If you need to, have a quick review, and save the most recent one only. Be mindful of checking emails with attachments in case they are important.
  • Finally reset to sort by “date” and scroll down – are those old emails still relevant and need to be kept and if so where can you keep them – out of your inbox?
  • Finally create folders related to you email communications.

My preferred method is to start with general categories then add subcategories if required. I personally like to have specific subcategories, so I spend less time looking for something. Separating business and personal is also something I find helpful even if I am using the same service provider.

For example, main category can be “Finance” subcategories are Banking, Accounting, ATO, Insurance etc..  If you want to simplify you could have Expenses and Income as your main folders and then sub folders with the relevant grouping underneath.

An option is to create a “waiting” folder at the top of your inbox where you store emails that are pending a response, however as with all good systems, you must remember to check this on a regular basis.

The focus is to start and set something up to get that inbox to a manageable level, the goal is not to have to scroll so you can see all your pending emails on one page,  you can always tweak folders later as needs change.

There are many automations you can set up within Outlook or other email platforms which will further streamline your inbox, however getting things to a manageable level is no. 1 priority.

Contact us if you need any further assistance