Spring has arrived and with it comes a renewed determination to freshen my mind by removing clutter from my life. I’m happy to say that I completed my first spring cleaning mission: Decluttering My Email Inbox.
My email has been a source of misery for me because it’s no longer fun to open. In the old days, it was filled with personal messages but now it’s filled with an endless stream of promotions and notifications that I don’t really care about. I can’t blame those businesses for trying to get my business, but I do take responsibility for not unsubscribing to all of the various email lists that I belong too.
Below is a screenshot of my primary email inbox that I took on March 26th, 2014. On that date, I had 50 unread messages and 605 emails with the oldest dating back to August 3, 2010.
Why Did I Save So Many Emails?
Many reasons. Some emails I didn’t want to delete because they were important. Others, I kept because I thought I would act upon them later. Some were just saved because I never pressed the delete button. Eventually, they all got bumped down to page 2, page 3, page 4 and beyond and since they were out of sight, they were ignored. Why act upon old emails when I had at least 20 new ones staring at me each time I opened the inbox?
Mass Email Deletion
When you are decluttering your inbox, you may be advised or tempted to unsubscribe to your email lists immediately. I chose not to. I had so many emails that I figured it would be best to just delete them quickly and worry about unsubscribing to the lists later. But, since I did have a few important emails that I wanted to save, I had to do my deleting smartly. So, I sorted them by sender (rather than date) so that I could delete large batches of emails from the same sender at the same time while also keeping an eye out for my important emails from specific senders.
My strategy worked. All of the sales notifications from Bed Bath & Beyond, Expedia, Groupon, SW Airlines and the Vitamin Shoppe got deleted in one batch. The important emails from specific people were found and then filed in subfolders. I also went ahead and decluttered my subfolders and deleted all of my sent mail, spam and trash folders. By the time I was done, I had my important emails saved and just one email left in the inbox. I kept that one because it was for an eBook that I purchased (for free) and I didn’t want to lose that email until I downloaded the eBook onto my tablet.
Deleting all of those emails felt great! I love having an empty inbox!
My Plan on Reducing the Number of Future Emails
Now that I have a fresh email inbox, I need to take steps to make sure it doesn’t get packed full again. My plan is to check the email once or twice a day, but not first thing in the morning. Early mornings are off limits as that is when I am the most energized and should not be doing busy work. Once I do have the inbox open, I need to quickly decide what to do with each email or which lists to unsubscribe from. Here is a list of the types of emails that I receive and what I plan on doing with them:
- Online Bill Paying Emails: As I pay most of my bills online and have elected to receive paperless statements, I will keep these types of emails. I get busy and don’t want to be late on a payment because I forgot about the bill. However, once the payment has been scheduled and paid, the emails will be deleted.
- Sales and Promotions Emails: I am on a budget and in the past, I felt that I should keep these subscriptions so that I don’t miss the next big sale. But in reality, I rarely bought anything because I received an email about it. All of these emails will be unsubscribed from and deleted immediately. When I need to buy something, I know where to look for deals and specials.
- Social Media Notifications: Yes, I feel good when someone follows me on Pinterest, mentions me on Facebook or endorses me for a skill on LinkedIn. But I don’t need to be notified each time one of those actions happen. I’ll find out the next time I log into my social media accounts. The temptation to click on these links is too strong for me and it’s better that I don’t see them.
- Personal Emails: These days, I use Facebook to communicate with the majority of my personal connections. But believe it or not, I still get personal emails from a few people. I will delete those emails after I replied back. In the past, I saved emails from new contacts so that I would have a record of their email address. From now on, I’ll either file those emails in a subfolder or just save their name and email address in my contacts list.
- Newsletters and Blog Post Notifications: There are only two blogs that I want to follow, so these I will keep. The others I will unsubscribe from. But if its a website that I want to visit from time to time, I’ll bookmark it first.
Deleting Those Emails Was A Simple but Powerful Decluttering Task
It didn’t take long to delete those emails as hitting the delete button is pretty easy. But how I felt afterward was great. Erasing four years of useless emails that no longer add any value to my life and coming up with an action plan for new emails freed me from email misery. If you haven’t cleaned out your email account recently, I suggest that you do so. Just remember to save your important emails first.
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Blog Post Images: Diana Poisson