Are you precariously close to maxing out that 15GB storage that Gmail provides to its users? Beware, because chances are, you can actually stop receiving emails when your inbox is full!
A cluttered email inbox is a nightmare but most of us neither have the motivation or the interest to do something about it. I mean how many times have you thought about reaching that elusive Inbox Zero only to end up with more and more emails in your inbox! But clear space you must! After all, new, beautiful emails, full of great stories, offers, and products await you. Make it your weekend to-do, and bookmark this article because I’m going to show you how to clear that ever full inbox!
1. Delete the unnecessary clutter
Forget about the messages that you don’t care about: social media notifications (search LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. in your inbox and delete all at once), emails that are too old and don’t need anymore, other types of notifications like deliveries, confirmations, forums, webinars, etc. In the end, it’s everything that’s not relevant for you anymore, emails you’ve already read or know that will never read (we know you won’t, please let it go).
2. Search by email size and delete everything larger than 2mb or so
You have probably had an email account for years but what slips through the cracks is all those large emails with high-resolution images, attachments, GIFs and more that suck up the space on your inbox. Use the “Advanced Search” option on your gmail top bar and delete all emails that are older than a certain size. Remember, you have 15GB of free space. Clearing out 1000 2mb emails means deleting 2000MB or 2GB worth of emails!
3. Unsubscribe to the email lists and newsletters you last opened more than a year ago
Yes, you signed up for that college group’s mailing list 3 years ago, and forgot all about it. Except you’ve graduated now, and don’t really need to be on top of all the goings-on at the old alma mater! Hit that unsubscribe button without being consumed by guilt. Make it a habit to regularly unsubscribe and leave behind all of those emails that don’t provide you value.
Unsubscribing dozens (or hundreds?) of newsletters manually sounds very tedious, there are tools online that can help you do it in just a few clicks. Choose and decide very carefully which subscriptions to keep and which have to go, you don’t want to miss your favorite brand newsletters and promos.
4. Opened? Make a decision right away.
This rule might seem simplistic, but it will save you a lot of time. Once it’s open, decide right then what you want to do: reply, forward, move to a folder, archive, or delete.
The idea here is not to open an email, read it, and decide that you will see it again later to continue with another activity. That’s a bad habit that will ensure your inbox is always crowded and leave you stressed.
5. Start using the “Yesterbox”
This methodology for managing your inbox was created by Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh. This approach is similar to the “zero-inbox” approach, except that you work with all emails from yesterday and consider them as your to-do list for today.
The fundamental idea is this: every morning you have a fixed number of emails to reply to, instead of having an endless amount of new incoming emails. Once you finish managing yesterday’s emails, you finish the email task for that day.
You will classify incoming emails into folders labeled “Yesterbox”, “Today”, “Action Required”, “Awaiting Response”, and so on. As you receive emails, tag them accordingly. The real task of managing these emails is assigned to the specific time on your calendar that you have selected to handle yesterday’s messages. In the end, your Yesterbox will end up as a to-do list with static tasks.
That liberating feeling of completely completing a task is what makes this method so appealing; However, if your job requires you to take care of emails as soon as you receive them, this is not a good method for you.
6. Classify and conquer using labels and filters
Every time you receive a new email in your inbox, you should:
- Answer the emails you can immediately (only if you can).
- Tag the emails you need to see later by marking them with a star or a specific label.
- Try to make folders that will help you organize and find what you don’t want to delete.
- Archive or delete any email that is not important or urgent.
In the end, you will try to archive everything. Your inbox will still be zeroed and everything else will have been designated to the appropriate panel, archived, or deleted.
7. Set a specific time to clear your inbox
Dedicating specific periods to clear your inbox, it should be something you do in small batches every day and in larger batches every week, depending on the amount of new mail you receive. Limit yourself to managing new emails during fixed periods every day.
What’s the point of working with batches of emails? Not having to deal with emails as soon as you receive them, as that could negatively affect your productivity and distract you from projects and tasks that are much more important than a perfectly clean inbox.
8. Time to keep it clear
It’s not as hard as you would think, you only need the discipline to follow the tips that go best with your lifestyle. The best practice is to do this every time you have time for it, if you let it roll with no initiative, in no time your inbox will once again be a stressful situation that you don’t need.
By archiving and deleting unnecessary emails, you’ll be able to pay attention to the messages that you really need to read and manage your workload more efficiently.
What other methods do you use to keep your inbox to zero? Share your ideas with us in the comments.