Advice, Career

How to Organize Your Inbox

If you’re one of those people with hundreds of emails in your inbox, go you. You’re breezy. But we’re all adults and it’s time to get it together. Not entirely together, obviously, but an organized inbox is a start. And what better way than to learn from your type A neat freak internet friend?

Set up canned responses

These are answers to common questions that you’re asked via email, so in my case, the story of how I got my start, or a reply to a brand that’s interested in partnering. Go to settings then labs. Search canned responses, click enable, and then save. When you compose an email, there’s an arrow in the bottom right corner. Just hover over canned responses and save the canned response. It’s that easy! Click here for a a more detailed tutorial.

Stick to a schedule

How many times have you spent hours tackling your inbox? Set up dedicated periods throughout the day to answer email and commit to taking a break there’s another project that needs your attention.

I go right to my inbox first thing in the morning and reply to whatever I can before heading into the office and starting my day. It’s a tricky balance that might take some time to figure out, but you’ll get there.

Unsubscribe

There used to be dozens of spam emails in my inbox, so I’ve started opening each one, clicking on the little arrow at the top right, and then I block the sender. If you didn’t know you could do that, it’s a real life changer. Only keep the newsletters you like.

Find your magic number

Ten. That’s the number of unread emails that I aim to have in my inbox at the end of a work day. I don’t always get there but try to stay close.

Plan ahead

Guys. Boomerang has changed my life. It’s clear that I like an organized inbox but there are days I can’t get to everything. You know those emails you need to reply to but won’t have time to answer today (or tomorrow)? The Boomerang plugin for Gmail and Outlook will schedule an email to disappear and to come back within a few hours or days, when you’re ready.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve realized I was waiting on information after emailing someone but forgot I needed it. Boomerang will schedule a reminders to make sure someone gets back to you by a certain time, so if an email isn’t replied to by Tuesday at 9AM, Boomerang will bring it back to the top of your inbox. Brilliant, right?

Capsule your inbox

Time to really practice what I preach. I was running out of space and realized I had emails dating back to 2012. Over 24,000 of them. Only 10 unread but thousands and thousands of emails just sitting there taking up space. So I cleaned everything. Start by deleting emails you don’t need, file the ones you do need into folders, answer anything you’ve been putting off, and delete all those newsletters sitting there taking up precious space in your digital office.

It won’t always be perfect and we certainly won’t always have less than 10 unread emails in our inboxes, but I hope these tips will help make your lives a little easier. You’ve got this.

What tips and tricks do you live by when it comes to tackling and organizing your inbox? Share them in the comments below! 

  • Work email: everything I do is on the computer and via email so I use my inbox as a secondary to-do list (gotta have that pen/paper); if the email is still in my inbox, it means I haven’t finished that yet. As soon as something is answered/under contract then it’s filed. While I can definitely procrastinate, an unofficial rule of our small business is not to leave clients waiting, so, most days, by 430pm, if I have the answers I need, my inbox is empty. It makes it really easy to never go back into my office in the evenings and is great for work-life balance when work and home are under the same roof. I take the 2 weeks around Christmas (when we’re closed) to clean out all my inbox folders of anything I might not need for the next year.

    Personal: I love the gmail tabs and so all newsletters and sales are in my promos tab and I’ll look at it first thing in the morning, look at what I want, delete everything else.

  • Jenny

    these are great tips! I’ve been meaning to go in and do the canned responses so putting that on my calendar to get that done! I wonder if Boomerang will work with Mac mail? Also, other than boomerang I will ask, how do you manage or flag all the “in process” emails I seem to struggle with that, I keep my inbox relatively organized but feel like I could get a bit better of a day to day system on the stuff in process. Any tips? Thx

    • It only works with gmail and outlook. I’d give gmail a try. You can forward mac mail there. It is (in my opinion) much better than mac mail (and I love all things mac). I don’t really flag in process emails. I’ll occasionally have some in draft and have made it a habit to check drafts just in case.

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  • I use some of these tips too! Unroll.me is the best free app to eliminate all of the unnecessary subscriptions that I use every now and then when my email inbox is getting out of control.

    Thanks for the tip – I will try the Boomerang plugin!

    My goal is to have inbox 0! Well, it rarely happens though :))

    http://stylesprinter.com/

  • These tips are very helpful and save a lot of time every day. I got used to stick to them and work with emails became a way easier.

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