Five quick tips for cleaning out your Inbox

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Waterslide

You probably have more than one email address. The Gmails and Yahoos of the world combined with your work email mean you’ve got a lot of incoming mail to deal with, and unless you’re an organizational whiz, one of those boxes will be neglected at one time or another.

The tips below are specifically designed for those times when one or another account has become too much to handle. I’ll cover daily maintenance like rules and folders another time. 

Run a search for emails from donotreply
It’s a one-word phrase that can send as much as 25 percent of your neglected inbox to the trashcan instantly, but it’s a step people often forget, or try to do manually. These “do not reply” emails will get rid of months-old “breaking news” updates, expired sale notices, and anything you can almost certainly safely delete as a first step. 

Run a search for the letters fwd
This one will filter out chain letters, lolcats, paranoid conspiracies from uncles, et cetera.  In fact, I recommend creating a rule that sends fwds outside of work (or from particular coworkers…you know the ones) to a separate folder. You’ll want to scan the results of this search a little more carefully than the last, since there is a slight chance there may be something legit here.  

Reorganize your inbox by files with attachments
The same shady or annoying flotsam and jetsam can exist here…with pictures! Either that, or in your absence, someone has sent you a lovely little virus. The point is, use the same scanning technique you used above, but be extra careful and avoid downloading any of these files unless they’re safe and vital to keep. Mass delete the rest.  

Pick a date and delete
Chances are, anything important that you had the chance to deal with would have been re-sent in a certain time period. If that time has passed, It may be best to avoid the frustration that comes along with trying to deal with it. Pick a date in a manageable-for-you time period and delete anything before that day. 

Take the opposite approach
Use the search function to find what you are looking for and delete the rest. If you were able to let it go with little negative result, just search for VIP names or subjects, read and save those, then delete the rest.

Optional Step Six: Do a little dance
…because really, what’s more satisfying than deleting email?

6 thoughts on “Five quick tips for cleaning out your Inbox

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