3 Simple Tips for Organizing Your Inbox

A lot of my organizing tips are specific to an area of the home (like the kitchen, playroom, or under the sink), but there is a common area that we are all touching on an everyday basis: our email inboxes!

While this area of your life doesn’t fill up with the same type of clutter that you see around your home, the impact of the disorganization in this area can be just as frustrating and difficult to navigate and honestly one of the most difficult areas to organize. If the growing number of unread email notifications drives you crazy or you are sick of not being able to quickly locate an email that you know you have received, it’s time to focus on the digital clutter in your life.

So, let’s talk about what can be done to tame your email inbox once and for all. Below are some tips or organizing your inbox that are simple, don’t make much time and yet have a big impact on your inbox flow.

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3 Simple Tips for Organizing Your Inbox

  1. Clear out the clutter. Get rid of the emails that are clogging up your inbox by deleting what’s not necessary to keep, just like you would paper files. By unsubscribing or marking your emails as spam”, you’ll prevent those mass and frequently distributed emails from reaching your inbox. Want an easy way to make the process easier on yourself? Use an app like Unroll.Me to help identify what you’re subscribed to and decide what subscriptions are worth staying on the list. Also, if you want to delete emails from a particular sender, use the “search” section in your email inbox to pull up all related emails, making sifting through the email pile that much easier. And remember, if an email has been sitting in your inbox unread for a while (months or longer), then that might be an indication that it’s not too important to continue keeping around!

  2. Create categories. Similar to how you would sort a filing cabinet, create folders based on what categories are used in your email inbox. Folders can be broad, like “Medical” and then labels can be used to tag each related email into a more specific category (i.e. by family member or doctor). For emails that you’d like to have automatically moved to a folder, consider setting a “rule” through your email system preferences which will automatically move any incoming emails that fall within the rule specifications to a designated email folder. This is particularly helpful for categories that don’t require your response, but that you might want to refer to later (i.e. digital receipts, reservation confirmations, etc.)

  3. Control the labels. Remember: you are in control of your inbox! Use labels to your advantage by setting them up in a way that will work best for you. You can be as broad or specific as fits your needs. For quick visual cues to identify the email topic, make sure that all email subjects use good descriptors so that you can easily identify what the email pertains to (and therefore easily be able to assign it to the right category). Marking urgent and time sensitive emails in a color, like red, will allow for you to always tell what needs to get worked on immediately. If you’re running short on time or have a quick 15-minutes to answer emails, head straight to these priority colors so that you can start checking them off of your list.

*BONUS TIP: Just do it. If there is something that can be checked off almost immediately, handle it right away. From responding to a quick email to setting a timer for 5-10 minutes to tackling your inbox, get the mindless tasks that are clogging up your to-do list out of the way so that you can spend valuable time on everything else.


Are there any specific tips that you have for getting you inbox better organized? I would love to know what is working for you.