Clutter Free E-mail Communication

by Robin O’Neal Smith

You log into your email and find you have another hundred messages.

What do you do?

Email ClutterYou are afraid to mass delete for fear there is something of importance, but you don’t have time to look at each message. So you let them sit in your in-box for another day or two till you have time to go through them. Before you know it, you have thousands of messages and feel totally overwhelmed. You know you have missed important messages because they are mixed in with all the rest. Email is such a quick and easy way to communicate, but along with the convenience of speed and ease, comes more spam, clutter email that you must deal with.


Part of being Clutter Free is keeping your e-mail inbox under control. So, what is your next step?

Creating a Clutter Free Inbox

1. First of all, you need to deal with the problem at hand or at least get it out of your inbox. I suggest you create a file titled “Sort” or “Old Mail”. Move everything currently in your inbox into that folder. Then when you have some free time (if that ever happens!) you can start going through the folder and deleting the trash. I schedule a half hour on Friday’s to do this till you get it down to nothing.

Now your inbox is empty, and the goal is to keep it down to 10 messages or less sitting in your in-box. The next 6 tips will help you keep it manageable.

2. When you create an email to send to someone, make sure you put an accurate title in the subject line. If emails go back and forth and the subject changes, be sure to make the change in the subject. This will come in handy when you need to search for an email for any reason.

3. Keep your messages short and to the point. People won’t read a long email message. They will either delete or skip over it.

4)  If your message requires a reply, make it a yes or no type question or one that a short answer is all that is needed. This will make the replies easier to read and take much less time.

5)  If you have multiple questions, put each in a separate email so you don’t hold up the correspondence if they need to research one or two for the answers.

6)  For messages that you may need to keep, create a file. For example, if you have several clients, each could have a file to keep messages in that you may need to refer to in the future. Other files you may need include “business receipt” for online purchases, “invoices” if you send bills to customers online, “personal” if you mix your business messages in with your family messages, “follow-up” for messages that you need to follow up on in the next week or so.

7)  As you go through your inbox, act immediately on all messages that will take you a few minutes to complete. Then you can quickly move messages to the appropriate folder if they need to be saved or delete. Junk messages can be quickly deleted. If there are messages that you need some time to research or you need to check with others, put them in the follow-up file.

If you do these steps consistently, you will find your email inbox is much more manageable. There are many other tips of things you can do to streamline your time spent on email, but these are the ones you need to do to get started.

So start now to tackle your inbox—one more thing you can be proud of in your quest to be clutter-free.


Robin O'Neal

Robin O'Neal Smith for bioRobin O’Neal Smith is a wife and the mother of a 19 year old son.  A solopreneur, she enjoys blogging about social media, time management, life, food, family and travel.  You can read more of her posts at Be Social, Get Success and Robin O’Neal Smith.  Robin enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, social networking, cooking and blogging.