Learn how to declutter and organize your Gmail inbox so you never miss an important email again.
If your email inbox gives you major anxiety, then join the club my friend. I’m guessing you get at least twenty emails a day, huh? And I’m also guessing that 15 of them don’t even get opened. Well, in light of the New Year, how about you turn that drowning black hole of messages into an organized folder system that keeps what you actually need tucked away and easy to find, while kicking what you don’t need to the curb?
Go grab yourself a cup of coffee and a snack, crank up some nostalgic music from your childhood, and let’s ditch that e-clutter anxiety once and for all. You with me?
1. Create Folders and Subfolders
Before you even touch that giant list of emails loitering in your inbox, start by creating folders and subfolders. You know your habits, girlfriend, don’t lie to yourself. You leave all the the tracking numbers, receipts, appointments, recipes, and discount codes just sitting there in hopes you’ll delete them later. But you don’t. And they hang out in there for so stinkin’ long.
Start by creating main folders like:
- Requires Action
Then add in Subfolders nested under your main folders. I use Gmail, but all email providers have some kind of categorization system. Some of my subfolders under Family include Medical, Appointments, Events, and Important Documents. Under Shopping, I have subfolders for Receipts, Tracking Numbers, and Discount Codes. You can make folders for whatever works best for you.
*Psst, bonus points if you have a folder for Lela Burris | Organized-ish emails! I send out an email every Tuesday with sweet tips, tricks, and extra info you won’t find on the blog. Definitely worth hanging onto!
2. Start From The Top
Here’s where the coffee and tunes come in. You’ll start from the top of the swarming pile of emails in your inbox and either file or delete them. Do not, I repeat, do Not, keep something unless you need it.
While you’re filing, be sure to save any email addresses you may want to contact again to your address book (plus this keeps ‘wanted’ emails from ending up in your Spam folder) and unsubscribe from any marketing you no longer want to receive.
3. Set Up Incoming Filters
Once you’ve emptied out your inbox and filed everything away, now’s the time to set yourself up for never having to do this nonsense ever again. I like to set up filters within my Gmail account so certain emails go straight to the folder they’ll hang out in until I no longer need them.
I specifically use this method for free printables and downloads I pick up from bloggers, recipes I save from websites, tracking numbers for recent purchases, and appointment verifications.
If you’re a fellow Gmail user, here’s a great article that walks you through the filtering process if you’re unfamiliar with how it works.
4. Set Alarm Reminders For Monthly Folder Purges
Look at you getting ahead of the game! Now that your inbox is wiped clean and you’ve got future emails redirected to their rightful home, you’ve got to be a little proactive about those shiny new folders you just created. Yes, they are great for filing, but unless you keep them up each month, they’ll end up being even more of a disaster zone than what you started with.
I like to set an alarm on my phone to remind me once a month to go through and purge my Gmail folders. This is something you can do while you’re in line to pick up your kiddo from school or while you’re waiting for your spouse to just pick a damn pair of shoes to wear already! It’s just the freakin’ grocery store! #sneakerhead
All you’ll do is jump into your folders and trash anything that’s no longer relevant. Tried a recipe and hated it? Trash. Received the purse you ordered and are already out showing it off? Trash! Cashed in that coupon for a free Bloomin’ Onion? Trash, trash, trash.
5. Sync Gmail To Your Digital Calendar
So what do you do about the email reminders you get that have been buried and forgotten in the past? Like the appointments you missed, the school events you didn’t show up to, and the once-in-a-lifetime Meet and Greet with your fave author that slipped your mind…
Let’s face it, no matter how organized your inbox is, unless you’re hanging out in there all day every day (you should not, btw) you aren’t going to remember everything. I highly suggest syncing your emails to a digital calendar of your choice so you can receive notifications and alarms on your phone. Even if you use the iCalendar instead of the Google Calendar, you can still set calendar reminders and sync it with your Apple device. Here’s a great tutorial for syncing calendars that I actually used myself recently.
Want To Keep Going?
Keep your inbox nice and tidy by making it part of your Daily 5 Minute Declutter session. Not doing a Daily 5 Minute Declutter? Oh girl, I’m about to change your life. Head to this post to see what five short minutes can do for your home, work, family, and sanity.
Or keep the fire burning by organizing your printed photos into digitally preserved files. Here’s a post on what to do with all those printed photos you’ve got hanging around and how to make them last fo-evvvaaaa!