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I’ll admit that since I started as a freelance writer, I have also become something of a compulsive email checker.  Then add to that the fact I have signed up to a lot of newsletter since I look my blogging more seriously and the result is an inbox that is a mess.  One of my New Year aims (I don’t do resolutions) is to get my inbox organised and feel in control of my email once again.  But how can I do this?

Use multiple email addresses

One of the first ideas I encountered when researching how to get your inbox organised was the concept of having a number of different email addresses that you use for different things.  The example given said to have three – one for work, one for personal and one for bulk.  So, you would have your work-related emails come to one while anything personal such as messages from friends, notifications from the kid’s school and such would go to another.  The third would be where all those newsletters and mailing list emails would go and you could sift through them to find the interesting stuff.

Sweep your inbox

Another idea is to simple batch transfer emails into folders to sort through later.  You could do this by the quarter, by month or even by week if you wanted to.  This removes a lot of the clutter from the inbox and means you only have this month’s or this week’s emails in front of you when you log on.  Then when you have a spare period, you can go back through those older files and delete anything unnecessary.  It also makes it easier to find things at a later date.

Unsubscribe

We have all signed up for email lists for one reason and after that, never really read a thing the person has emailed to us.  In this situation, it is better for all involved to unsubscribe from the list.  After all, many people will be paying to send emails and if you aren’t interested in what they must say and likely won’t ever be, then there’s no point in them spending money trying to woo you.  Best for both parties to end the relationship there, let them find subscribers who are into them and you find a gap in your inbox.

inbox organised

Add time in your schedule to deal with email

This is a step I am trying to take to get my inbox organised – leave a slot each week to deal with all the emails I haven’t touched during the week.  For me, it is a Sunday as this is my official day off.  I try to keep on top of things a little each day as I check for relevant stuff but there are always emails I want to read properly or follow up on – those get left for a Sunday where I can spend a little time with them and delete all those I don’t need.

Inbox organised with tools

I’m a big fan of tools, systems and software that help me to do things and so the idea of getting a tool to help get my inbox organised was always going to be appealing.  Unsurprisingly, there are loads of them and quite a few are free.  I will be trying a few myself but in the meantime, here are some suggestions.

1.      Unroll.me

Unroll.me is a tool to help you unsubscribe from all those email newsletters you have signed up to over the years.  You can either be harsh and wipe them all out at once or go through and select the ones you no longer want to hear from.  Then the tool simply unsubscribes you from the list and that’s a few less emails on the pile.

2.      Mailstrom

Mailstrom is a tool to organise your email accounts and quickly review, archive or delete the messages.  You can sort by the subject, the sender or criteria such as shopping or social.  It has a one click action to deal with the email and this includes being able to unsubscribe from those newsletters.  There is a free trial for two accounts and 5,000 emails then price plans start from $4.95 a month for three accounts.

3.      Triage

If you spend more time on your iPhone or iPad than a desktop, then Triage might be ideal for you.  It shows emails as an index card on your phone and you can either flick up to send it to your archive or down to leave it in the inbox.  You can also open the message and read it if you want.  It works with Gmail, Yahoo and others that use IMAP and costs $1.99 to download.

4.      IFTTT

I’m a fan of IFTTT and it isn’t a surprise to hear that you can use their Applets to help get control and make your inbox organised.  There are a range of applets to help including sending email attachments to Dropbox, saving starred emails to Evernote and even getting a text message if a specific person emails you.  All of these are free to use and allow you to automate more of your inbox tasks – you can even turn emails into Trello cards, another of my favourite tools.

5.      Google Inbox

When I read Google Inbox on the list of tools from Hubspot, I was a little confused.  Wasn’t my inbox on email a Google inbox?  But no, apparently, this is a new system to help people organise their emails.  Every email that comes in when you use Inbox is transformed into a task and then you can take various actions with it.  You can snooze the email and tell the app when to show it again or you can even tell it to remind you when you are at a certain location – for example, when you are in work or at home.  You can also use it on both Apple and Android phones.

6.       Sortd

This one is a new addition to the list that was recommended to me and I’m really impressed.  It works with your normal inbox and allows you to add emails to lists such as Read It Later, Videos or anything else.  You can have three lists on free version or more on the paid one – which is a massive $2 a month!  It makes them in your inbox as well so you can see the ones you have sorted.  I’m a fan so far!

Conclusion

With a combination of self-organisation and useful tools, I am determined to get control of my inbox in the coming weeks and find myself spending less time flicking through them aimlessly in case I missed anything important.  I’m going to give a couple of these tools a try myself over the next few weeks and I’ll let you know how I get on!

September ’17 Update – I tried Google Inbox for a while and it was a good tool until I discovered that when I deleted an email, it still seemed to keep a copy somewhere else and I had thousands of emails sitting around!  Plus when I switched to G-Suite, it isn’t quite as useful.  I’ve also tried Unroll.Me and it is a great tool to get rid of a few subscriptions but I still like emails to arrive as they are sent rather than in one big chunk.

If you have a favourite inbox organisation tool or system, I would love to hear about it!

How to Get Your Inbox Organised and Get Control of Email