If you’re anything like me, at one time or another, you’ve had an outrageous number of unread emails in your personal inbox.
At its peak, mine had over 1,500 untouched messages.
What can I say? I’m popular.
Seeing that number made me nostalgic for the old days. Remember when you got your first email address? Every email was brand new and exciting! Seeing a number pop up next to your Inbox icon was a thrilling experience that led to stomach butterflies and anticipation. Fast forward to the present day and that same icon brings dread and the slight panic that you forgot something important.
Before Sapper, I had long thought of my inbox as a necessary evil. Sure, I like sending emails, connecting with people, and sharing cat gifs as much as the next person, but after years of improper and neglectful inbox monitoring and behavior, my inbox spiraled out of control.
But as a Client Strategist at Sapper Consulting, I now work primarily with email lead generation and am now in charge of dozens of inboxes, and as a result, I read hundreds of messages a day. Over the course of my job and training, I have learned a few ways to make managing today’s bulk email nightmares much more manageable.
Here are my Top 5 suggestions for you to get a hold of your unruly inbox:
1. Look at the sender/email title
Check who is sending you an email: is this message from your grandma or B0T5000 who wants to sell you questionable pharmaceuticals? You can tell a lot about an email simply by who sent it. Do you really need all these newsletters from those petitions you signed online about bringing Firefly back? Probably not.
2. Skim body text
Most inboxes allow you to preview a snippet of the body of an email – does it look like something you want to read? If it does, click it, and if it doesn’t, dump it. If you do decide to give the email a click and find yourself yawning five seconds in, give yourself permission to throw it into the trash.
I don’t know about you, but I like to buy things on the internet. Sometimes I even sign up for newsletters and alerts with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, this can really clog up your inbox and leave little room for the stuff you do care about. Save your sanity and precious inbox real estate by clicking the “unsubscribe” button.
A few tools that go one step further to help you unsubscribe:
- Use Unroll.me or Unsubscriber to bulk unsubscribe
- Use Gmail’s built in ‘unsubscribe’ feature
Labels, folders, and color coding are your friends, and Gmail allows you to use these tools and more. One way I use them to organize messages is by making the most of a “Check Back In” folder.
Emails sorted into this folder each receive a label as to what month and year I need to check back with that person or project. This takes a measly extra ten seconds in the moment, but saves you from losing track of important deadlines. Most importantly, it saves you from any scary last minute panic searches for vital threads.
Much like the need to spruce up your living space, inboxes need love, too. Pick a background that you enjoy, one that transforms the inbox into a pleasant experience.
And finally, take the five seconds to setup your email signature. Even if it’s something generic, you’ll be able to stop writing a sign off a thousand times a day.
These email clean up strategies are by no means comprehensive, but they’re a good start to forming good inboxing habits that will help keep your incoming messages to a manageable number. After all, you’ve got to start good habits by breaking the old ones.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like “Winning New Clients with The #1 Resource: Email Lead Generation”