How Keeping a Clear Inbox Makes Your Life More Relaxed

Posted By on July 12, 2011

Whether you’re a geek or a technophobe the chances are emails become a really big part of your life. Pretty much all of us have to deal with it at work, and there’s a pretty good chance of it playing a pretty pivital role in your social life. But what’s that got to do with a blog about clutter? Well, you may be doing a great job of keeping your home neat, tidy and under control, but can you say the same about your inbox?

You might not feel it, but a cluttered and disorganised email inbox is having an impact on your daily life. Those two or three minutes finding a missing email or half hour procrastination session that comes out of being uncertain what to do soon adds up. The accumulation actually often makes the difference between leaving on time and a stressful late night work session.

So what can you do to declutter your inbox and feel more relaxed? My first tip is to unsubscribe yourself to all those email newsletters. Chances are you never read them, and all they are doing is taking up space in your inbox. Just because you may have a huge amount of capacity in your inbox doesn’t mean you should use it. If you do decide to leave yourself on any newsletters, you’re best setting up a rule that directs them to a specific folder. That way they aren’t a distraction, and you can view them on your own terms when you are taking a well-earned break.

Chances are your work computer probably has an email notification setting that pops up in the right-hand corner of your screen whenever you get a new email. I reckon that being the default setting in Outlook is responsible for millions of wasted minutes every day. No matter what you’re doing, seeing the flash of a new email arriving will distract from the task at hand. It may only be a fraction of a second, but it will break your flow. Turn it off, this second. Stop reading and do it now. You may think I’m joking, but doing this actually changed my life.

Choose a system and stick with it. There are all kinds of ways you can categorise and sort your email. Whichever you choose doesn’t really matter much. What does matter is that you stick with it, so go with what you feel most comfortable with. My approach is simple. I have my inbox (which I try and keep clear); a folder for dealt-with items; a folder for unimportant items called “back burner” and an important folder called “follow up”. These are the things I need to do something about.

If this post about keeping your inbox tidy has inspired you, there’s great news. There’s a whole movement dedicated to keeping your inbox neat and tidy. It’s known as Inbox Zero. There’s been a lot written about the topic, and you’ll find dozens of how-to guides, which will make keeping your virtual in-tray as neat and tidy as your home.

Rhian Jones is a clutter fighter who, when she isn’t keeping things minimal, writes for DealZippy a fairly new website dedicated to daily deals.

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