Declutter Your Email Inbox

This week, in the Declutter to Empower Challenge, let’s declutter your email inbox, organize it, and set some boundaries for use. Ready? Let’s go!

About the assignment:

Do you remember when email first came out, and you chose your account name? Mine was buggylou13 at, which was a combination of my childhood nickname and my favorite number. I was a senior in high school, and I mostly had no idea how to use this new technology. I remember sending electronic roses to my boyfriend who had gone away to school on the east coast, and receiving electronic teddy bears in return. If I didn’t hear from him for a week or so, I didn’t really wonder. He sent me long hand written letters more often anyway. Those handwritten letters were the ones with the good stuff; the ones I couldn’t wait to receive. Email was really just a fun experiment, an icing on the cake.

Now I check email on my phone at stoplights.

This fun experiment has now become something we all have to constantly manage during the day, at night, on weekends, and even on vacation. My husband gets over 200 emails every day, and it never stops! And honestly, as I write this my email inbox has exactly 1,515 emails in it. Today, I’m taking it right down to o, and I’m determined to set a framework for use that won’t leave me feeling constantly behind or tethered. Will you join me?

Start Your Declutter!

Sort emails by Sender

Open your email and click on the “sort by” tab right above your emails. (I’m assuming you’re using gmail. If you’re not, your steps may be different). Select “from” and “A to Z”. This way, it will sort all email senders and group them in alphabetical order. I can now delete in bulk much easier because I don’t have to glance at every single subject line and sender. For some reason, I tend to not take action on a lot of emails sent from places like the GAP and Nextdoor and they pile up!

Eliminate emails in Bulk

Delete all unneeded emails. I was shocked at how many emails I’d kept that I had no intention of ever opening! My plan is to create a system so that doesn’t happen as often. When deleting, use this trick: click the first email you want to delete, and then hold down your shift button, and click the last email in the series you want to delete. This selects the whole group, and you can delete them all at once! This will save you so much time and finger cramping. I took my email from 1,515 down to 30 in about fifteen minutes.

Assign folders for most saved emails

I haven’t always taken advantage of the folders function in gmail. For some reason their preset folders didn’t resonate with me, and I just never created my own. To create you own, first look at the emails that you still have left in your inbox after the delete. Important work emails to save, receipts, emails from your kids school that you want to keep for a paper trail, keepsake emails from friends.

Just like when your organizing belongings, figure out what types of emails you like to keep and then create folders to contain them. Here are mine: Blog, website, organizing, freelance, newsletters, kids school, receipts, recipes, and keepsake. These cover my basics. If I have a project that I’m working on, then I’ll create a folder to contain all the emails associated with it, and delete it when I’m finished. To sort the emails left into the assigned folders, simply click on the email, and drag it to the folder you want to put it in. Now it’s out of your inbox and filed for safe keeping.

Tips to Keep Your Inbox Clear:

  1. Unsubscribe from all lists that don’t bring you value.
  2. Designate a time or two each day to check and respond that works with your schedule. This will save you from checking all day long.
  3. Turn off email notifications. If you don’t see them, you won’t be tempted to check and respond at times that don’t work for you.
  4. Start seeing your inbox as your active to dos. Try to bring it back to zero each day, by filing and deleting at your preset times.
  5. Consider each email you send carefully. Maybe you don’t need to send one at all?

I hope this helps your inbox stay clear, and your heart light. Now, I’m off to walk out side in the winter sunshine. When I get home, I might just write someone an old fashioned letter. How will you treat yourself for your email declutter?

Come to my workshop!

If you want to learn more ways to create time and space for what you love in a fun group setting, come to my home organizing workshop at The Riveter Fremont on March 11! Here’s a link with all the details and to buy tickets! It would be great to see you there!

If you loved this post, please “like” it and share it with a friend!

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram where I post organizing tips and photos of my sweet boys, as well as Pinterest where I’m pinning things for my #Futureboards and my upcoming trip to Nashville in March! My handle is @organizedbyheart

Here’s to a week of getting back to basics,


P.S. you might also love this post:

Declutter to Empower Challenge Week 2: Desk

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