Do you have trouble figuring out how to keep your inbox empty? I definitely do. A few weeks ago, for the first time in three years, I actually had an empty inbox. It was beautiful. But now it’s a mess again and I miss that beautiful, empty inbox. I’ve dug up some ideas on how to keep your inbox empty.
Of course, you have to have an empty inbox to build on. First, if you haven’t had a clean inbox in years, I suggest declaring email bankruptcy.
How to Declare Email Bankruptcy
1. Move all messages older than 2 weeks to a new folder. (Or, if you’re feeling brave, just delete them.) 2. If needed, send out a very, very polite message to your contacts to resend anything important. 3. Enjoy a clean, fresh email box. For at least two minutes, anyway.
How to Keep Your Inbox Empty
Declaring email bankruptcy is no use if you just slide back into your old email habits. That’s why you need to establish a pre-bankruptcy strategy. Just like in real life, you don’t want to go bankrupt again. Here are some suggestions for how to keep your inbox empty after you have declared email bankruptcy:
* **Set up folders.** Lots of folders. Set up a system so that, for instance, all your newsletters go in one folder and all your financial emails go in another. And all your Great Aunt Agnes’ forwards go in yet another. You can do this by sorting by keywords or email addresses. * **Make an archive folder**. If you don’t want to make lots of separate folders, at least set up one archive folder. That way you can put emails your done with in the archive folder, keeping your main inbox clean without having to worry that you’re deleting an important email chain. * **Switch to [Google Inbox](https://www.google.com/inbox/)**. Inbox’s inbox (yes that’s a confusing name) does a lot of the sorting for you through pretty smart algorithms. It also lets you “sleep” emails so that you’re reminded about them later. And when you’re “done” with an email, it archives it, so you’re never really deleting anything. * **Set up an email schedule**. Don’t just check your email constantly throughout the day. That’s just a recipe for panic! Instead set aside certain times of the day where you check your email and actually deal with whatever is in your inbox. This way you don’t keep putting off email until later.
Any other ideas for keeping a clean inbox? Please share!
The Listserve Cowboy
P.S. If your inbox is empty, you’ll have more space for your email discussion groups!