Once I resolved to clear out my inbox I experienced immediate benefits. I was surprised by my clearer brain and improved efficiency. Are you looking to simplify your life with an empty inbox?
Since clearing out my inbox a year ago, I have noticed that I not only look forward to opening my email, I am far more efficient. I no longer get overwhelmed if things pile up because I have a system in place.
My journey began with the help of the e-book Paperless Home Organization. While my goal wasn’t necessarily to go completely paperless, I found the author’s email organization hints phenomenal and continue to refer back to them.
Would you like to spend less time on email and more time doing what you love? Consider these 5 suggestions for clearing your inbox.
There is no halfway on this one. Having twenty instead of forty emails in your inbox won’t help as much as an empty one. Decide to finish the task. Once you commit, be sure you follow through on a day when you are clear headed and feeling decisive.
2. Establish a location
You’ll need a place for ideas, links and excerpts of emails. Before my inbox cleanse I used Outlook with a variety of folders. If an email came in that I didn’t have time to process, I dragged it to a folder. This only escalated my sense of clutter. My folders felt like my inbox. Thanks to Paperless Home Organization I discovered Evernote. This ingenious system requires that I make a decision about an email before filing and allows tags and easy ways to pull it back up when needed. I have been far more selective with what I am transferring to Evernote, and don’t feel nearly as cluttered as I did with the folders. There are lots of other helpful apps along this line. For more see Best Note-Taking Apps.
3. Unsubscribe and “Unnotify”
Are you on more email lists than you can keep up with? Do you have your Facebook notifications come to your inbox? Consider unsubscribing from most newsletters. Once you experience life without newsletters you’ll be able to subscribe to the ones you have truly missed. Keeping newsletters in your inbox with the hope of getting to them later adds a level of mental weight that may be relieved by unsubscribing.
Notifications for any social media where you are active are best kept to the outlet itself. When I get on Facebook I check notifications first. I don’t worry about missing something since I’m experiencing a much clearer head and am able to keep up just fine.
4. Do not fear the trash
My fear of deleting something I would later need or want was burdensome. It kept things in my inbox that only added to the cluttered feeling every time I opened it. My trash is now my friend. If my initial instinct is to delete, I go with it. I don’t empty my trash often, so if I need to retrieve I can. I have found great freedom in deleting more readily.
5. Maintain it weekly
My inboxes invariably pile up from time to time. This is inevitable. If I see more than 10 emails in my inbox, I take fifteen minutes and clear them out. I currently have a newsletter in my inbox that I received several days ago. During my maintenance time later today I’m going to peruse it and move anything pertinent to Evernote. If I don’t have time to read it as carefully as I would like I will still delete. I look forward to my maintenance time as it’s quick and rewarding.
Clearing my inbox has yielded surprising benefits. My decision-making and productivity have markedly improved. As I consider other areas of my life that need to be streamlined I take heart that a clean inbox is not only attainable, it is a worthwhile task that impacts every area of my life.