Quick! How many emails do you have in your inbox right now?
Until a couple weeks ago I had 16,554 emails cluttering my inbox in five different accounts! Not only were my inboxes cluttered, so was my mind just knowing they were all in there waiting for me.
It’s Day #6 of our Spring Cleaning Challenge and today, I bet you guessed it, we’re going to be doing a little digital decluttering. I’ll show you how to overcome email overwhelm in five simple steps.
Even if you’re not a blogger, I know email can be a huge issue for every busy mom, especially when you’re trying to save some money by subscribing to a bunch of different brands and deal sites to get coupons and discounts, so let’s get started!
How to Overcome Email Overwhelm
When I started asking around my circles what was the best way to get my inbox under control, I was met with a flippant, “select all and click delete”.
While I could totally understand the inclination, I knew it wouldn’t be quite that simple. There was really important info and correspondence in there, but sorting out which was which was another matter altogether.
In fact it was getting so overwhelming that I missed some really important emails like my friend asking for my kids to be in her wedding and my accountant asking for my business files. Yikes!
Then I started Googling, but even there I couldn’t find much in the way of thoughtful instruction on how to responsibly take control of my inbox.
Then I discovered a resource called Paperless Home Organization by Mystie Winkler, and I had a flicker of hope that this was what I needed. You can get the book here. (affiliate links)
Today, I want to share how I took my inbox from 16,554 to just 31, without hitting delete, and how I’m now set to go for making sure the email overwhelm doesn’t take over next time, using the tips from Paperless Home Organization.
Step 1 – Use One Email Account
Up until this point I had seven different email accounts, each one flooded with emails. There was one for personal, three different ones for the blog, one for my Etsy store, and two other random ones that I couldn’t even open without recovering the password.
Using the instructions in the book, I set up ALL of these accounts to forward to my one main gmail account. The original email is deleted from the original inbox, and forwarded to my one main gmail account.
Now there’s no reason I ever need to look at those inboxes again, and I don’t have to bother notifying all my contacts about an address change.
Step 2 – Unsubscribe
As emails start rolling into your inbox, unsubscribe to anything you don’t ever want to see. Just click the little unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email newsletters you no longer want, guilt free! (We’ll cover the things you sometimes want to see in Step 3.)
I have to tell you this step is pretty eye opening. I really can’t believe all of the voices I have allowed to pull at my attention. It felt so good to put them on mute!
This may sound like strange advice from a blogger who sends out thousands of emails to her readership each week, but I would much rather have the people receive my emails that actually want to get them, rather than letting them sit clutting up a bunch of inboxes of people who no longer want to receive them.
Keep unsubscribing until you don’t find any emails you don’t ever want to see.
Step 3 – Set up Labels
Next we’ll create labels to sort all the different types of emails you receive. You can think of these labels as little digital file folders.
Here’s a list of labels I included:
- Affiliate and Promotions
- Contacts and Opportunities
- Grocery Savings Made Simple eCourse
- Reader emails
- Sales and Deals
Your labels will probably be a lot different than mine, depending on your family, work, recreation, and volunteer responsibilities, so just keep refining your system until it works. Mystie offers lots of great ideas in the book to help you think through this step.)
Step 4 – Create Filters
Next we’ll harness the power of Gmail to sort and filter all of the emails that you do want to see. You can filter emails automatically based on where you want them to go.
I had tried to use unroll.me before to help me unsubscribe and filter emails, but over time I found that a lot was sneaking through that I didn’t want, and a few things that I did want to see were getting filtered out. Gmail just has so much more finesse to make it do exactly what I need to minimize what’s in my inbox without losing important information.
There are some important emails, from let’s say Paypal as an example, that I need to see that should go right into my inbox. However, there are others that are from the same email address that are basically just junk that could automatically be deleted. And there are still others from that same email address that I need to keep on file but not need to waste my time actually reading.
Gmail filters does all this automatically. I never quite understood the power of the filter feature before. Wow!
Paperless Home Organization goes into detail about how to do this effectively, much more than I could cover here, but one important tip I learned for why this wasn’t working when I had tried it before: Make sure the ‘important override’ feature is disabled.
Step 5 – Turn Off Notifications
The final step is to go into your email program on your phone and disable “push” notifications. Also make sure notifications are turned off on your desktop as well.
I turned off the email alerts (and Facebook, Twitter, etc.) on my phone. I want to be in charge of when I give my attention to my phone. Not the other way around.
You might even consider going one step further and deleting these kind of apps from your phone altogether. But I must admit, I’m not quite there yet!
How to Go Paperless
I’m now using Mystie’s book to create a comprehensive digital organization system. My favorite part is, the book showed me how to make all those former stacks of clutter disappear and turn them into a searchable system, so I can always find exactly what I’m looking for.
With a blog, small business, meal plans, grocery lists, budgets, and homeschooling, this is exactly what I needed to organize all the information and ideas flying around my head. They’re firmly organized and accessible on my computer, my smart phone, and even syncs to my husband’s phone as well using completely free apps.
Find out how to go paperless, how to set up a digital home management binder you’ll actually use, how to take control of your inbox, and more in Paperless Home Organization. It’s included through April 27 with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle.
My mind is boggled by all the productivity and organizational goodness in this little book!
- Project Organize Your Entire Life
- Your Simple Home Handbook
- De(Clutter) Buddies 8-Week eCourse
- One Bite at a Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler
All these and much more are also included with the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle through April 27. Check out this amazing resource right now before it disappears!