If you’ve ever sent me an e-mail, you might know that I can be slow to respond. Or I might forget to respond all together. If you’ve ever sent me a deadline, you know that I can be even worse about that! The way my e-mail was set up, it’s no surprise I was communication failure: I had 10,000 emails in my inbox. No wonder things were getting lost in the shuffle! I love Elise’s Simple Tips for Dealing With E-mail, and decided I wanted to give the “one touch e-mail” / “zero e-mail inbox” method a try. I resolved to get my inbox under control and gave myself a month to do it. Here’s how I got from a 10,000 email inbox to an empty one!
Step 1. Unsubscribe Part of keeping a manageable inbox is reducing the amount of e-mail that comes in all together. I took a tip from Kam’s Inbox Purge and unsubscribed from e-mail blasts I never read. Is it really worth it to delete an e-mail a day from a place where I shop once a year? No. All of that deleting adds up time wise and also adds to digital noise.
I kept the newsletters I actually enjoy, e-mails from places where I’m a frequent shopper, and I-need-the-latest-news-asap newsletters (like the 30 Days of Lists Newsletter). Places where I shop infrequently, but tend to stock up using coupons, also stayed. For instance, I only shop at Two Peas in a Bucket every few months, but I like keeping up with what products are coming in and almost always shop during a promotion.
Decide which e-mails are worth it to you, and purge the rest!
Step 2. Mass Delete E-mail’s search function is your friend. I sent 7,000 e-mails to the trash very quickly because I made deleting a game: I tried searching for words that would turn up a lot of deletable e-mails, like business names for e-mails I didn’t need to keep, words like “purchase” and “transfer” to get rid of old receipts and bank stuff, or key words found in e-mails I get frequently. I’d set a timer between tasks and see how many e-mails I could delete in five minutes or would mindlessly delete while watching TV in the evening with Jake. It took way less time than I would have thought (10,000 is just an overwhelming number).
Get a page full of deletable e-mails, click check “All”, uncheck any keepers that slipped in, and revel in the joy of putting dozens of junk e-mails in the trash with one click.
Step 3. Mass Archiving This is where the awesome folders function in Gmail comes into play. You can create folders and sub-folders to store your emails, so the emails are organized, easy to find, searchable, and are not cluttering your inbox. Using the keyword trick from the deleting step, I searched quickly for e-mails I knew would need to be archived. For instance, I knew I’d want to search for all of the newsletters from Campfire Chic to put in my “Resources” folder because I’ll go back to them when I need motivation. Creative tips from Ali Edwards went into that folder too. For the “Resources / Blogging” subfolder, I rounded up all of my BUILD e-mails with free weekly blogging tips and e-mails from Sarah Von Bargen, which have tips for making you awesome on the Internet. E-mails with Eliza’s teacher’s name went into the “Mom” folder, One Year of Everyday Journaling Prompts went into a “Scrapbooking / Prompts” subfolder, and conversations with friends went into a “Personal” folder.
Decide which e-mails you’re likely to need again and put them in folders to make those e-mails easy to find!
Step 4. Read Through the Leftovers I’ve already written that e-mail is a memory keeping goldmine, but it can be hard to tell which e-mails have great memory keeping potential and which are trash. It can also be hard to decide which business e-mails you’ll need to refer back to in the future. This is why the last couple of hundred e-mails left in my inbox after these other steps were the most time consuming to organize. I had to read through these e-mails to decide what was trash, what should go in my “Personal / For Memory Keeping” folder, and what communications for the blog and business needed to go in which of my tons of “Work” subfolders. The only solution was to actually open these e-mails, skim over them, and evaluate (deleting the stragglers that somehow didn’t already make it to the trash can along the way).
Organizing important past e-mails can be time consuming, but it’s worth it to be able to find them easily in the future. Organize them into detailed folders to make them easy to access.
Step 5. Stay on Top of It Once I got that inbox cleaned out, I made sure to keep it that way. I delete things that don’t need to be saved immediately. I respond to things that require quick responses right away. I file things asap. And the only emails that stay in my inbox are those that need more thoughtful responses or require actions–so there’s no way I’ll forget to deal with them.
Take the steps to get yourself to a zero email inbox and see how it changes your productivity!
Currently I’m working on updating my bios and our neglected About Page using the new ebook About You by my friend Kam of Campfire Chic! I don’t know about you, but writing about myself is one of the hardest things for me. I’ll spend three times longer writing a few bio sentences for the end of a guest post than I will writing the whole rest of a post. I don’t know what it is, but it’s pretty hard to sum yourself up in a few sentences in an interesting way. But from what I’ve worked through from the ebook so far, it is going to be second nature before long!
I’m so glad that Kam wrote this ebook, because I literally learned everything I know about writing bios from her. I’m currently working on I’m planning on giving a full in-depth review when I’ve finished, but I wanted to give you all a heads up now, because Kam is currently running a Launch Week Special Offer for the ebook and workbook! Get the About You ebook for $5 off the original price OR get $10 off the ebook/eworkbook bundle now thorough 11:59 p.m. on November 2, 2013. No discount code necessary!
Didn’t want you all to miss out on a great deal because I’m a slow poke.