Tech & The Web

How Often Do You Clean Your Email Inbox?

With spring right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to begin thinking about some spring cleaning of your Email inbox!

If you’re the type of person who gets anxious when there’s even a dozen unread messages in your Email inbox, you won’t like this.

I don’t clean out my inbox. In fact, it’s never shown zero unread messages…except for about the first month or so.

Besides a place to receive messages, I use my inbox as a filing cabinet as well. So I scan what has come in multiple times per day, but I will often wait to open messages that don’t appear to be pressing at a later time.

This means, of course, that hundreds or even thousands of messages can quickly pile up in the inbox waiting for attention. (Or, depending on who they’re from, waiting to be sent to the trash can.) posted an interesting article last year on cleaning up your inbox in one hour.

One hour? I guess they haven’t seen my inbox!

But I will admit that one of the suggestions in their article is one that I use extensively in my inbox: folders. I have created a set of folders that some mail automatically falls into depending on who’s sending it.

For example, all of my bills go to appropriate folders inside a bigger “Bills” folder. As I pay those bills, they’re no longer marked as unread, so that lowers the unread count.

Similarly, I place filters on email newsletters and news alerts I receive from various news organizations. Generally, I’ll scan the subject line and decide whether to open at that moment. About once a week or so, I’ll open one of those folders and just delete everything in them once I know it’s no longer an urgent matter.

I also use Google Alerts to receive articles about topics I blog about. When I’m having a struggle coming up with a blog post, I’ll scan some of the most recent alerts I’ve received and I can usually find a topic worth writing about pretty quickly.

The folders give me an easier way to filter and remove content I know I no longer need. And as I see additional email come in that is not filtered, then I know to either create a filter for it or delete it on the spot.

It took me about 20 minutes this morning to delete more than 2,000 emails. I still have several thousand showing as “unread.” 

But in those 20 minutes, I dropped the total number of emails by more than 20 percent!

No matter how you count it, that’s progress!

How many unread emails are in your inbox at any given time?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.