There are two types of people… those who keep an their email inboxes emptied out at all times and those who have over 1000 emails sitting in their inbox. Usually vowing that soon I’ll take some time, respond, look at the interesting ones, and sort out the rest.
Okay, that may be a little more black and white than it really is, but you get the idea. I’m sure you know someone who has “inbox stress” if you aren’t personally suffering from it.
This topic may seem a bit off from what I normally talk about, but it really isn’t.
Getting stress and anxiety from looking at or thinking about looking at your inbox is completely unnecessary. I, at times, can fall into both categories very easily. I have a very organized, systematic folder system for emails I save. However, I wouldn’t file them away until I would take action which is how my inbox could easily get overrun. Then a month later, the emails that looked so interesting when I first got them are still sitting there, outdated.
It’s not worth the stress. And it definitely isn’t worth the risk of losing a truly important email that needs immediate attention in a sea of “interesting” or “look into later” emails.
Don’t you want to feel like a rockstar who is on top of things every time you open your inbox?
Create folders to sort your emails into
Keep it simple. I like to keep a folder with the year and month on it and once the month is over, I put it into a larger, “archive” folder.
I also keep main folders for regular topics. Things like account information, one for each kid, and the bigger, more global topics such as each of my businesses, education, expenses (this makes taxes a ton easier too!), etc.
Spend 5 minutes every morning or night clearing out your inbox
I’m a sucker for a good deal so I tend to want to leave emails about specials or sales in my inbox indefinitely.
Again, totally not worth the stress. If I haven’t taken action on an email by this time, it goes to the trash or gets filed away.
Only check your inbox a few times a day
We waste a ton of time checking our email. When I have set times that I check my inbox, I know I can immediately respond to emails that need attention and either file away or delete most of them that aren’t immediate.
This will also free up time for that yoga class you keep wanting to go to but don’t have time for!
Have your inbox set up to automatically filter your emails
When I learned how to do this, it was like the keys to the universe were being bestowed upon me!
I get plenty of emails that are educational or related to my business that aren’t time sensitive. I’ll want to look at them later on when I have more time or I already have time set aside to look at.
When I was working on creating my Podcast, I was told to take a 2 week course. Setting up a filter to where the email completely bypassed my inbox and went straight to the folder was a breath of fresh air! I didn’t have to look at the unopened email sitting there until I was ready to actually open it and give it attention.
This has also been a godsend with emails from people who have valuable information that I don’t want to miss. They don’t clog up my inbox and I can open them when I have time to go through and really absorb the content.
How to Filter Gmail
If you don’t know how to filter your inbox, it’s fairly simple.
With google, it’s just going to the search bar in your inbox, clicking on the arrow on the right side of it. Enter the email of whoever regularly sends you what you need filtered, then click on the bottom right hand part that says “create filter for this search”.
Check “skip the inbox” and “apply label” (then choosing which label), and saving. You can get more detailed but really it’s that simple.
You can choose to filter certain words like “meditation”, “weight loss”, “exercise”, or whatever floats your boat. Then you can visit that folder when you actually have time to give the emails the attention you want to give them.
Unsubscribe from emails that you don’t find value in
This one can be hard for me because I am afraid I’ll miss something or forget who I want to look for later on.
Truth is, if I’m not getting real value from any of the emails someone’s sending me, it does both me and them more of a favor if I just unsubscribe. You can always sign back up later on.
For months I got emails from Delta airlines and I didn’t want to miss out if they had great deals on airfare. However, I always fly Southwest unless they don’t fly where I’m going. I have my Delta account number saved in my account folder so after (this is embarrassing!) 2 years of getting emails from Delta that I never read… I finally hit unsubscribe. Lesson learned.
Roll Up Your Emails
Unroll.me is a free service that allows you to view all your email subscriptions and choose which ones to keep, which ones to allow to go to your inbox, and which ones to “roll up” – meaning they’ll send you an email each day with a snapshot of each email in your “roll up” so you can choose which ones you want to look at.
I’ve used and loved this service for years, but I do want to be transparent and tell you I’ve recently stopped using them. Not for anything awful, I just found that some of the emails that were “rolled up” were still showing on my Apple watch as they came in and then I wouldn’t be able to find them (until I realized they were my rolled emails – which are in a special folder).
I just found that to be a bit annoying and when they changed their Gmail permissions, I didn’t have the time to mess with it so I just stopped using the service. I’ll probably set it up again sometime when I have more time – but I wanted to be honest that it’s not a be all – end all solution for me.
Bottom line… life is too short to stress over your inbox. Really, stress does gnarly things to you both emotionally and physically.
If you put it into terms that your immune system is shot, you are gaining weight, or you lose sleep at night because of stress, don’t you want to limit stress in any way possible? Of course you do!
If you’re one of those who suffer from inbox shame, these tips will help. You’ll also want to get FREE access to my Stress Series Secret Podcast – available to stream through your favorite podcast apps – to find other ways to create little changes that reap big, stress busting results.
Do you have any crazy stories about inbox shame or awesome life-hacks I didn’t mention to keep your inbox under control? Let me know what they are in the comments below. And if you found this valuable, please share it.
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