As more folks have gained access to, and embraced, technology, a new form of clutter has come into our lives – digital or virtual clutter. It isn’t exactly the same as the physical clutter present in our homes and offices, but it’s effects are very similar.
Virtual clutter leads to decreased productivity, increasing feelings of frustration and overwhelm. Maybe the most common form of digital clutter is the current state of our email inboxes.
Do you frequently overlook or miss important emails because your inbox is cluttered with a recipe of the day or a store sale ad from Target or Old Navy? Time to put a system in place so you can cut through the mess and get the information you need. Here are the 4 steps to get your inbox decluttered:
Step 1: Stop the Influx Unsubscribe from any and all newsletters that are no longer interesting or of use to you. Use time saving sites like Unroll.me. What if you still want the information? Consider having the information pulled to you on demand rather than having the information pushed to you via email. Think Pinterest, where you will see the same information when you scroll through the latest pins. Or Feedly, a site that brings all of your websites and blogs together in one place. That way you control when you get the information and it doesn’t clog up your inbox. Social network notifications got you down? What do you really want to be notified about? Is an email necessary or could you employ app badges instead? If you don’t want to opt out entirely, filter them into a dedicated folder where they will be contained.
Step 2: Work through the backlog Now that you’ve cut down on what is coming in, it’s time to work your way through your inbox and whittle it down. Your cluttered inbox represents a whole bunch of delayed decisions, so commit to taking a stand now and making a few decisions so you can cut your inbox down to size. Sort by date and get rid of anything that is outdated and old. Or sort by sender and save anything of interest and see if there is anything to act upon now. Delete anything else.
Step 3: Sort and File Use filters and folders to sort the emails you can’t delete just yet, and also to set yourself up for success going forward. Use the filters to divert emails from your inbox and into various categories that fit the types of emails you receive. Consider creating a “Waiting” folder so you can keep track of things you need a response from someone else. This keeps your inbox free of that type of clutter.
Step 4: Pledge to change In order to keep your email free and clear of clutter, you’ll need to do some maintenance going forward. Change the bad habit of simply scrolling through new emails and commit to making a decision about each new email that comes in. Otherwise, your inbox will revert back into an overwhelming pit! Old bad habit: scroll through and cherry pick what you actually read or act upon. New rule: act upon each email and don’t check your email unless you are going to do something with it!
Follow these steps and your email inbox should be decluttered and clear in no time!
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