Just this week my friend Terri told me about her life-changing experience.
She got to Inbox Zero.
You know Terri — I’ve spoken about her before and she and I are starting a new venture together with the launch of our online course Lights Camera Expert.
Anyway — whenever I see the amount of unread emails she has I have an anxiety attack. We’re talking 4 and 5 digit numbers.
Yes, thousands of unread messages.
Finally she had enough and decided to archive all of her messages. She didn’t go as far as I have in the past by deleting everything in her inbox. Instead she archived the ones she’s gotten in the past month and has a clean and shiny inbox.
Time spent: Less than 5 minutes. (However, she’s been agonizing over this for at least a year.)
The misconception about cleaning out your inbox is that it needs to take a long time. So we often put it off and procrastinate. Putting it on the “oh yeah I should do that” list.
There are ways to fix your email without having to spend hours decluttering. Using these five-minute fixes you can start to clear your inbox and well as setup practices that will lead to a clearer inbox in the future.
No more email essays – Because so much meaning can be lost through email instead of a face to face conversation we tend to overcompensate by writing more. We hope that the more we write the clearer our message will be. However that’s rarely the case. I like to challenge myself to write only 4 sentences per email or less. If I can’t explain everything in 4 sentences then I’ll pick up the phone or try to talk in person. This way everyone is on the same page and I don’t waste hours typing essays — and your colleagues don’t have to read them!
Unsubscribe from all that junk! – We get so many junk emails everyday it’s a chore in itself to sift through them all. You often don’t even remember signing up for at least half of the newsletters you receive. Unroll.me* identifies all the email lists you’re subscribed to and gives you the option to unsubscribe with just one click. When I did it I was signed up for more than 300 newsletters! You’ll be surprised how much digital clutter you can accumulate over time.
EDIT: Unroll.me only allows you to unsubscribe from 5 email lists before requesting that you share about them on a social media platform. Once you share you can unsubscribe from as much as you like. Not a problem if you use social media a lot, but very annoying if you don’t!
Quickly reply to lingering emails – We all have those emails that hover around in our inbox. You know the ones — you plan on replying to them sometime, but you put it off for some reason or another. Well now it’s time to get them out the way! Set a timer for five minutes and try to blast through as many of these emails as possible. Don’t hesitate and scrutinize every word — just focus on getting a response out there.
Schedule ahead of time – I’m an avid fan of Boomerang for Gmail, which allows you to schedule emails ahead of time. So when I’m up late getting things done but don’t want my email to get lost overnight. I just schedule it to go out in the morning and off it goes. Or if you want to remind someone about a meeting or a conference, you can write up the email and schedule it to send the day before the event. That way you get it off your plate right now while it’s still fresh in your mind.
Create email categories – If you’re juggling lots of different clients at work or maybe you want a separate folder for each of your kids – splitting up your inbox makes it easier to find crucial information and avoid clutter. Once you have the folders set up you don’t have to go through all your emails right there and then, just sort them as they come in or when you have a spare moment. I like to sort mine when I’m waiting in line at the store.
Need more ways to clean up that inbox? I’ve got dozens of them! Check out my course Take Back Your Inbox. It’s a quick, simple course designed not only to help you get back to inbox zero, but helps you keep it that way too!
*Unroll.Me makes money by learning what people stay subscribed to and what they unsubscribe from – that data is valuable and helps corporations learn what people want and what they don’t want. Your email address is NOT sold. If you’d like to keep your subscription list private you’ll need to unsubscribe manually from individual email subscriptions. If you appreciate the swiftness that you can unsubscribe from multiple sources while helping brands service customers better then Unroll.Me is for you!