Um, the type-a, OCD part of me is very excited for today’s topic. As unsexy as it sounds, uncluttering your inbox is something that nearly every single small business owner we know needs (and wants desperately) to do.
Between client emails, calendar notifications, junk mail and—yes—the occasional (or more than occasional) J. Crew Flash Sale notification, my inbox is one Facebook notification away from starring in an episode of “Hoarders.” Today, then, we wanted to stick with July’s theme of productivity and focus on channeling that productivity toward that ever-ignored inbox of yours.
We’ll start with the no-brainer. If you’re an avid online shopper (raises hand), you’re likely signed up for way too many newsletters, sale alerts and other non-imperative, non-work related emails. Set aside an hour (or three, depending on what retail-addiction level you’re at) to unsubscribe from at least 90 percent of them. Chances are, you’re not even opening them as they come in. If you can’t bring yourself to miss an update about a sale, allow yourself to stay subscribed to your top three stores, but no more than that.
Update Your Notification Types & Frequency
Take some time to go through all of your accounts—social media accounts, newsletter subscriptions, etc.—and update your notification type and frequency level. You don’t need to receive an email every time a friend posts to your wall or has a birthday. Stay subscribed to only the most imperative information that you don’t want to miss.
To update your notification frequency in your Aisle Planner account, click on your username in the top right corner, then choose “user settings.” From there, select “user preferences” at the top of your screen. Scroll down to “Notifications” and take a look at the options you have selected. Deselect any that aren’t imperative. You can also choose when you receive these emails—down to the exact hour and minute.
We’re huge fans of the app Boomerang (available for Gmail, Outlook and Android). It allows you to schedule messages to send at later times, bring an email back to the forefront of your inbox at a designated time (like your hotel confirmation the day you’re slated to check in, or a client email right before a meeting), or send an email back to the forefront of your inbox if you haven’t received a reply within a certain amount of time (to remind yourself to follow up on that email).
A great solution for organizing and decluttering your inbox, email filters are available through a number of different email providers and are super easy to use. You can set them up to automatically send certain emails to a folder (i.e. send all of those shopping sales emails you couldn’t bring yourself to unsubscribe from to a single folder that you check once every other day). Or, you can use them to apply a label to certain emails or even automatically delete certain emails.
Use Labels & Folders
The best way to keep that inbox of yours from joining mine on that episode of “Hoarders” is to use your email provider’s organizational tools to your advantage. Set up a handful of labels and/or folders (shopping, travel, work, Scott wedding, McFaden wedding, family communication, etc.) and get in the habit of placing those emails under those labels or in those folders right as you receive them (you can also use the filters we talked about earlier to automatically do this for you). Once a folder is no longer imperative, archive it.
Overall, all it takes to declutter your inbox is a getting into a regular habit of following some super simple steps. Consistency is key—take care of (or file away) emails as soon as you receive them, every single time. And, as always, don’t forget to treat yourself to a glass of wine once you’ve slimmed down that inbox.