Spring cleaning for your inbox

Man sits under tree in field of yellow flowers and reads email on laptop
Spring is the time to clean and declutter – so why not start with your inbox?

Spring cleaning – time to get rid of clutter and give everything a deep clean. But what about your email inbox? Is it full of messages you no longer need, using up storage space and making it harder to keep track of information that’s actually important? In a few easy steps, you can make a clean sweep  and set up a system that will keep your emails organized going forward.

Out with the old (emails) …

Take a minute to cast a critical eye over your inbox. Which emails and folders do you actually still need, which have served their purpose and can be deleted? 

Sorting your emails quickly

Are there emails from a specific sender you no longer need to keep – like messages from a teacher at a school your child has long since graduated from? No need to scroll through your inbox and delete each message manually. Simply enter the sender name into your inbox search bar and you will have a list of all messages from that sender. Now you can select them all and move them to Trash.

The same idea works if there are lots of emails from a certain sender in your inbox that you’d rather keep in a specific folder. Create a folder if needed, perform your search and select all the emails. Now you can move them to the folder all at once.

Save and delete

Are there emails you’ve been keeping just so you’ll have the person’s address or because there is a file attached? Now is the time to save those contacts to your address book – this makes it easier to add them as a recipient in future, helps keep emails from this sender out of your Spam folder, and makes your contacts portable between address books and devices. And it couldn’t be easier – simply open the email, click on the recipient name, and select the option of adding it to your contacts. Now you can send that email to the Trash as well.

The same applies to emails you are keeping in your inbox because of their attachments. Saving the attachments to your device’s hard drive or your Cloud storage will also make them easier to find. Open the email, click on the attachment, and choose whether you’d like to download it or save it to your online storage.

Don’t forget your folders!

There may be folders you don’t need anymore – like one you created for emails from a club you no longer belong to. These can simply be deleted. If you still want to use the folder after decluttering it, you can empty the folder and set storage time limits to keep things from getting out of hand again (see below). Don’t forget to check other system folders, like making sure there are no unwanted messages in your Drafts and that your Trash is being emptied at suitable intervals.

Pro tip: As you tidy up, if you find emails you consider spam don’t delete them, but mark them as spam or drag them to your Spam folder. This helps “train” your inbox spam filter, meaning emails from that sender will automatically go to Spam in the future and you won’t have to see them.

… in with the new (system)!

Now that you’ve tidied up, here are some simple hacks to keep your inbox organized:

1. Set up email filters

Are there certain categories of emails you’d like to be able to find more quickly, like invoices, newsletters or emails from your mother? You can automatically filter incoming messages so they go straight where you want them. If you have a mail.com account, you’ll find details here.

2. Set storage time limits for folders where appropriate

Obviously you’ll want to save those messages from your mother forever (Hi Mom!), but the odds that you’ll want to read a year-old newsletter from a retailer are slim. So you can customize that folder’s settings to delete those emails after a defined time.

3. Set up folders in your email’s cloud storage

This lets you quickly save any attachments and photos you receive. If the folders are set up in advance, you can save attachments with a single click and delete the email from your inbox immediately.

4. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe

Often we agree to receive newsletters or advertising, but then lose interest in the company or decide the resulting inbox clutter isn’t worth it. Nowadays newsletters are required to have unsubscribe options that you should take advantage of.

5. Consider creating different email addresses for different uses

Sometimes it makes sense to have seperate email addresses e.g. for work, family and friends, or shopping/newsletters. For example, mail.com lets you create up to 10 addresses within a single account. Then you can use automatic filters to keep your incoming emails completely separate and never have to untangle them manually again.

So what are you waiting for? Make a clean sweep of your inbox today. And if you found our suggestions useful, please give us a thumbs-up below!

Photo: Shutterstock

153 people found this article helpful.

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