Keeping your email inbox clean and organized should be as straightforward as keeping your closet clean. But the reality is keeping your inbox clean is about as easy as keeping a toddler’s room clean — have you ever tried that? It’s a constant struggle, and if you look away for one second, everything is being thrown at you from what feels like every direction.
Even for the most organized among us, keeping a clean inbox can be a struggle. There are more than 4.258 billion active email users across the world, and though text and Slack are becoming more popular, more than 62% of professionals still prefer email for work communications.
In fact, the average person receives 126 business emails each day. Kind of a wild number, isn’t it? So, with this many emails coming in from every direction, it’s no wonder it feels overwhelming.
Using SaneBox can save you 2.5 hours a week, but even the most dedicated SaneBox users report email overwhelm. And, with email, the stakes can be high. You might forget to respond to your boss or completely overlook an email from a promising potential client. Luckily, there are several tricks you can use to clean your inbox and keep it looking pristine.
Prioritize Using the Eisenhower Matrix
Chances are, you’ve heard of the Eisenhower Matrix, even if you don’t know what it’s called. The Eisenhower Matrix is a productivity tool created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who famously said “What is urgent is seldom important, and what is important is seldom urgent.”
So, want to know how to use the Eisenhower Matrix? It’s simple, but brilliant. You start by drawing a square and dividing it into four quadrants. The X axis represents the urgency level and the Y axis represents level of importance.
Use the four quadrants you’ve created to organize your tasks.
- The top left box is for urgent tasks that are also important.
- The top right box is for tasks that are not urgent but are important.
- The bottom left box is for tasks that are less important but urgent.
- The bottom right box is for less important, less urgent tasks.
Now, organize your tasks by writing them down in the most suitable boxes. Then, use those boxes to determine the best action to take for each.
- For everything in the top left box labeled Urgent and Important, do these now!
- The tasks in the top right box now labeled less important but urgent, make some time on your schedule to do them soon.
- For the tasks on the bottom left corner that are “Less Important but Urgent,” try to delegate to someone.
- And, here’s the real lightbulb moment, if it’s not important, and it’s not urgent, just don’t worry about it!
If you’re looking for more information, this blog post on productivity has some great tips as well.
Use Time Blocks
Listen, just because we’re an email company doesn’t mean we think you should constantly be checking your inbox. In fact, we find a lot of value in setting strong email boundaries. It’s OK — great, even — to develop an email schedule that works for you.
Email comes in at all hours of the day, but some experts suggest we should never check email in the morning because it starts our day already feeling as though we’re behind. Still others we’d be best served by checking email no more than 5 times per day.
Regardless of what rules work for you, we suggest blocking out set periods of time during which you check your email. The trick? Turn off email notifications and only check your email during the allotted time.
It might feel good to constantly check your email, but it’s not productive, and it certainly won’t help you keep your inbox as organized as you want if you’re being reactive instead of proactive.
Take Out the Email Trash
Part of keeping anything organized is making sure your trash is emptied on a regular basis. Make emptying your unwanted emails and your Trash folder a weekly ritual. Maybe it’s what you do Friday mornings as you sip coffee and mentally plan your weekend. Maybe it’s what you do when you’re “working” while your kid is at practice each week.
Regardless, make a habit of it. We recommend using SaneBox Email Deep Clean at least once a month to help with this. And the good news? If you accidentally deleted an email you need, most of the time, you can recover it.