How to Organize Your Email

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Can you find that important email when you need it? Does your inbox serve YOU? It may be be time to organize your email.

How to Organize Your Email | Tips from - Can you find that important email when you need it? Does your inbox serve YOU? It may be be time to organize your email.

Everyone on the planet, except for my aunts and uncles, uses email. Something I’ve noticed, however, is that we use it differently.

–> My husband never deletes a message.

–> A friend rarely saves an email, clicking delete with relish.

–> Another friend has 2 million unopened emails in her inbox.

–> I find myself a combination of methods with lots of folders for filing “important” emails and my inbox acts as a work list.

How to Organize Your Email

Wherever you find yourself on the Time-Space-Delete-Continuum, your email inbox should serve you. It shouldn’t be someplace you dread to go. It’s a tool for communication and record-keeping.

1. Set a goal for your inbox.

Currently, my goal for my inbox is to keep no more than 50 emails in there at a time. I can see all of those on one page in Gmail.

I use my inbox as a to-do list for work. Each week, I set aside time to bulk delete things that aren’t necessary to life (newsletters, shipping confirmation, etc). Typically, I delete these from my phone as the day progresses, but on busy days that doesn’t always happen.

How to Organize Your Email | Tips from

2. File appropriately.

I keep separate files for comments yet to be answered or articles I want to read but don’t have time for. The inbox is purely for things that need action.

3. Clean it out regularly.

It’s really important that once you find a system that suits you, that you keep up with it. Seasons of life will get crazy. And if you do things digitally, very important documents can filter through your email inbox. This year, I don’t think we were even sent a paper rental lease for the house we live in. We did all sending, signing, and receiving via email. You don’t want a mess inbox. Keep up with your system so that your inbox is a tool that helps you.

You can organize your email.

But, my inbox didn’t used to serve me. In fact, it was a pretty horrible mess. I’m thrilled that it’s not that way anymore. I’m pretty confident that you can turn your inbox around as well.

Want to organize your email? Awhile back, I wrote about how I reformed my inbox, in very specific steps. It was such a great move toward bring more order to my chaos.


Something that’s also helped me is AmyLynn’s post on Setting up Canned Responses.

How do YOU organize your email?

How to Organize Your Email | Tips from

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  1. I try to keep my in-box down to 40 messages. Sometimes that goes better than others. In addition to having folders for filing things I need to keep for future reference, I have 2 different folders that have things I want to read or take some action on, but aren’t time sensitive. I tend to use the in-box as a “to-do” reminder, but if I get too many e-mails in there, I can’t quickly look to see what needs to be done.

  2. Ithis is actually something I’ve been working on. I’ve created several folders to help… to do, this week (school newsletter for the week, can delete next week), this month (can delete next month), K school (for k’s current school year), m-school, Adam (for all those emails he sends of things he wants so I have them at Christmas time).

  3. I delete anything I am not interested in reading without even opening it. Then I read anything that is more reference or a subscription I like to go over (like the email that lead me here!) If I want to store it for reference long term, I email it to my Evernote account. These rarely get deleted but since they are read, I rarely pay any attention to them after I am done.

    Stuff that needs more action, I either act on them right away or mark them as unread. While read emails don’t bother me, unread emails drive me crazy. I get back to them ASAP. Once they are done, I leave them as read in my email.

    Once a year or so, I go through and delete the read emails, getting it all nice and empty for me to fill up again.