How to Master Your Email Inbox: 5 Organizational Strategies

Email has been helpful to everyone for decades, in both professional and personal contexts. Some people who are perfectionists know how to keep their inboxes organized, and then there are others who either don’t have the time or don’t know how to master their email inboxes, and it can be overwhelming. With a few strategic techniques, you can master your inboxes and keep them organized. 5 strategic steps and tips follow.

Photo Credit: one photo/Shutterstock.

Step 1: Establishing a routine

Developing a consistent routine with your inbox is the key to keeping things organized. There are a few things you can do:

  • Tip 1: Dedicate set times to do this: this means allocating time aside during your day to go through your email inbox and check your email, getting rid of any spam, responding to the ones that need a reply, etc.
  • Tip 2: Don’t get stuck in your inbox: Assign 30 minutes or 45 minutes aside to check your emails throughout the day. You can use a timer to do this. 
  • Tip 3: Avoid constant notifications: Email notifications can get annoying when you are busy focusing on other tasks. They can disrupt your focus, and instead, it is advisable to keep only the ones that hold priority.

Step 2: Organizing your folders and labeling

Many email options, such as Gmail and Outlook, have a range of options to help organize your inbox. Use these to your advantage. 

  • Tip 1: Use the resources: Creating labels, folders, and categories such as bills, work, and personal can keep things in check.
  • Tip 2: Create sub-categories: Sometimes it also helps to create sub-categories under the main ones you’ve already created, dedicated to projects, tasks, different utilities like gas or electricity, etc.
  • Tip 3: Adjust things as you go along: categories and folders aren’t set in stone and can be updated and changed to remain relevant.

Step 3: The two-minute rule

Establishing a two-minute rule to help manage your emails efficiently. Here are some tips.

  • Tip 1: This todoist website has an article that goes more in-depth about the Two-Minute Rule which is simply that if something will take less than 2 minutes to do, then you should do it immediately. Things such as responding to certain emails to reduce the backlog.
  • Tip 2: Every couple of hours, review this: rinse and repeat.

Step 4: Unsubscribe

  • Tip 1: Unsubscribe from any emails that aren’t relevant. These can get annoying. Either unsubscribe or block them and move them to your spam folder. Identify things, such as promotional emails, newsletters, etc., that you no longer need and unsubscribe from them. 
  • Tip 2: You can create a rule in your inbox to do this automatically and send any irrelevant emails to certain folders. You can also do this for important emails.

Step 4: Set up automation

Emails have filters and various options for automation, which you can use to help organize your inbox efficiently.

    • Tip 1: Creating ‘rules’: Inboxes have automations to create ‘rules’ to perform certain actions. This Google page has instructions on how to create rules to filter your emails if you’re not sure how to do this.
    • Tip 2: Automatic responses: These can also be set for circumstances such as automatic responses while you are away to let senders know you are not available.
  • Tip 3: Update your filters regularly: this should be done on an ongoing basis as your email communications and contacts change. Keep adding new ones and removing ones that aren’t relevant anymore. 

Incorporating these strategies will ensure you master your email inbox like a pro!