Tidy Tuesday: The Ruthless E-mail Inbox De-clutter (Step by Step Instructions)

You see that little number beside the word “Inbox” there? That 800? That is NOT the number of e-mails in my inbox. Nope. That is the number of UNREAD e-mails in my inbox! There are actually 2,137 e-mails in my inbox!

I find when life gets chaotic, like after having Poppet, or after my brother in law died, the first place clutter shows up is in my inbox. It just ranks at the bottom of the Totem pole. And the thought of having to deal with it get to the point of being overwhelming. So, as I am on a quest for organization and tidiness, figured I should include the mass e-mail exodus in the mix. Consider this your step-by-step guide if this is something you too are struggling with.

1- Start by doing general searches in order to do mass deletes. For example: I searched for WagJag, Groupon, Stratfor, etc. Anything that I subscribe to daily that I know I no longer have a need of that is sitting in my inbox. Select all, delete.

2- Use your folders. Make sure to have neatly organized folders even in your e-mail. For Pardon My Poppet I use sub-folders like Giveaways, Post Ideas, etc. When an e-mail hits your inbox that you do not need to keep there, but don’t want to get rid of, put it in its proper folder right away.

3- Unsubscribe to newsletters and forum updates that you are not referring to on a regular basis. This alone saved me about 75 e-mails a day.

4- BE RUTHLESS! Select an entire page of e-mails. Only uncheck those that at the quickest glance you would need to look at again. This would include ones with attachments that you are not sure what they are, or ones with no subjects listed. Then press delete for all the others. Do not dwell on this list. If you do you will find yourself questioning if you really need to hold on to that recipe from Babyweb that you haven’t looked at in 6 months simply because you MIGHT one day make it. DON’T DAWDLE, JUST DELETE!

This got my inbox down to a manageable 235 messages in total. Now is the point to go through each remaining e-mail one by one. Act on each one immediately. Either print it out, file it, write a response, save an attachment, or delete it. And do it RIGHT AWAY. Kinda like de-cluttering a room. Once you have the item in your hand, you don’t wan’t to put it down until you know exactly what you are going to do with it (i.e. donate, trash, keep in it’s rightful place).

After this too was completed, I was down to a mere 8 e-mails that I am actively working on. The key to keeping your e-mail inbox de-cluttered is to repeat the above step daily. Act on everything as soon as it arrives and you will never be bogged down in the world of “Hey, did you get my e-mail?”

Warmest regards,




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Comment by Carmen E on January 24, 2012 at 4:51pm

love these ideas!!! thanks!!



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