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6 ways to create calm from the chaos of your inbox

Fat Mum Slim /

I don’t want to brag or anything, but my inbox is down to zero unread. Remember when it was up at THIRTEEN THOUSAND? I do. It was only a short while ago.

Also, if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t responded, it’s probably best to email me again. {Might have missed it, sorry!}.

Loads of people came by and shared their sorrows of an overwhelming inbox, and others left brilliant advice. Even my little sister popped by to leave a comment. She’s my super organised sister who cleans the shower after EVERY use. Who knew she had time to read my blog. Joking. But kinda serious.

So I’ve compiled all the advice in one handy spot for others to use. Perhaps it will save you from drowning in your inbox too {it was touch and go for a while for me there. Scary}.

One: Click Unsubscribe

This was hard. But I did it. I unsubscribed from almost every single email I was getting. It was refreshing. Those emails just scream ‘Read me! Look at me! Buy me!’ in their subject headers, don’t they? Instead I bookmarked a few of the stores/websites so I can check out the sites once a month instead.

Two: Create folders

I’m pretty sure most mail systems have the ability to create folders, but if it’s not obvious just Google it. Creating folders is something I adopted a few months back, but I created a few more and use them religiously now. I have a folder for online purchases, sentimental purposes {for all the love emails Hubby sends me}, advertising, blog inspiration, giveaways, bills, tax, work and more. I sort the emails into the appropriate folders as soon as I’ve read them.

Three: Mark important stuff as unread

This was my little sister, Jenna’s, hot tip. If she gets a bill in and she reads it and knows she has to pay it later – she’ll mark it as unread. So that it’s always there. Of course if your inbox is full of unread emails, you’ll never notice it. So this is something to introduce once you’ve done the big clean out.

Four: Use flags

No, I’m not asking you to get patriotic on me, but flags are good for putting a reminder on an email. I use MAC mail for all my emails and it offers me a rainbow of colours {I like the purple}. So I’ll put flags on emails I want to come back to, or need to address at a later date. You can then sort your emails by flags, so all the emails that you’ve flagged come up and you can got through them all at once.

Five: Pre-write your responses

This is a good tip for business-owners and bloggers, have a few pre-written responses at the ready. I haven’t adopted this one yet – because I like to personalise my email conversations. But if you have constant email enquiries, instead of writing out the responses every single time – have them pre-written so you can copy and paste your reply.

Six: Read & delete

When something hits your inbox and you’ve read it, don’t leave it sitting there – deal with it then. It can either go in a folder, get flagged, be replied to or get deleted. Easy.


One thing I’ve also found is that because I’m at my computer for extended periods during the day, I can check my emails quite a lot. It’s actually better to check just a few times a day. Or even just once.

How often do you check your emails? Daily, or a few times each day?

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  • Pommy Mommy

    Okay, You’ve officially inspired me to FINALLY do this!!! If you can do it, I can do it right?!? haha Wish me luck, I think I’m up to 8,000!

  • antmue

    Unread emails can really stress me out and make me nervous… I did unsubscribe of a lot of newsletters a while ago and it already helped me!

  • Tessa White

    I check so many times but I do read, answer and delete so I never have unread for long and I file away anything I need to keep then monthly go through the folders and delete from there too.. should have been a PA I tell you x

  • Melinda @ Shop Me Chic

    I try to read and reply as soon as emails come in BUT I really need to get onto folders. I tend to hold onto emails that I probably don’t need and at least sorting them into folders will clear my inbox up a little bit.

    Great tips! x

  • These are all great ideas! And I want to encourage you to go ahead & write your “canned” responses. You will be amazed at what a time saver that will be for you! When I was working in the banking/finance field we had a very large volume of email inquiries/requests that came in to us through our website and our internet home banking service. We organized and wrote our “canned” responses & created a shared folder that they could be copy/pasted from. The responses could still be personalized by using the person’s name & any significant details that you wanted to include but the format & the major content was already pre-done for you & the spelling and grammar had already been checked on this part. I can’t tell you how much of a time saver this was for us especially during peak periods where our volume would soar!

  • Natalie

    I check a few times a day. My biggest problem is multiple devices, phone, iPad, MacBook, they don’t talk to each other and so I am checking the same email 3 times! Of course there may be a way to fix this, I’m really not that computer savvy.

  • rjs86

    Great post! Another tip i use is catagories (in outlook) that way anything un catagorised is something i need to action. Everything catagorised i need to keep for reference. Currently im at 132 uncatagorised so i need to do an inbox clean up soon.

  • I totes need to do this. My inbox runneth over. Love this post. FAVOURITED. x

  • samstone76

    Great tips – I love flags!

  • Tiia

    I have all my emails from all my personal accounts (yes, I have several) coming to my mobile, so I tend to read them as soon as they arrive. But since it’s a pain trying to answer to any email through my mobile, I tend to forget that part, which makes me feel like a bad person 🙁 Work email doesn’t come to my mobile tho, I like to keep that totally separate! I use flags and marking unread too, both at work and personal emails, and usually it’s working great! But a few times there have been so many flagged emails that they start to disappear into the mass and I still forget about them…

  • I so need this! I cant get my emails under control anymore…over 100 still to look at 🙂 I really like the idea of delete,and unsubscribing – I have too many that come in that I dont even look at 😉

  • But, but, but… if I unsubscribe to everything, I won’t get your wonderful posts!!!! Can I keep just a couple? 😛 Sometimes I have to just flag everything and get to them on the weekends, but then I make myself take the time to get thru everything and sort, take care of, and read it all. I check daily to make sure I don’t have anything vital to address that day, but usually it’s the weekend that I clean it all up. But, unsubscribing to about 150 different scrapping e-mails was very freeing! AND has saved me tons of money!!!!!

  • Helen Deeds

    I usually have a fairly calm inbox unless I have a deadline for a photo editing job or am extremely busy…the last few weeks I’ve been extremely busy and have had severeal deadlines which sucks cuz now I have like 600 unopened emails (I used to have 700 yesterday so I knocked out quite a few today!!). I hate getting so far behind…I don’t want to unsubscribe from all the wonderful blogs I follow though plus I have all my other business emails and such so I have to keep up with those too (those I keep up with much better…the remaining unopened right now are mostly stuff to do with blogging). I will probably get a more organized structure put together for this soon though since it does bother me when it gets this far behind.
    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog

  • Yep I did all this and more! I changed my email address and moved on and only subscribed to the LIST I created for myself that I really couldn’t live without!

  • Hey there! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new apple iphone! Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!

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