I know many people are faced with the ever challenging inbox war. You know, just when you thought you’ve answered everything, another email pops in! It can be difficult + time consuming, I know … so I thought I’d share some tips from my very own INBOX ZERO policy. That’s right! I like to have everything clean/sorted/answered ( if possible ) by the end of my day. It makes me sleep better at night.

ORGANIZE : If I didn’t have folders, my life would be infinitely more chaotic. Yikes! My inbox consists of just two things. Ongoing conversations and anything unanswered. That’s it!! Receipts, bills, spam, and closed conversations that I no longer need are always immediately sorted into a folder or deleted. I actually never have more than one page of emails in my inbox. Everything else goes into it’s place to prevent chaos!

NOTIFICATIONS : Here’s the thing … with technology, we have the ability to be notified each and every time an email is sent. I get notifications on my desktop while working and my iphone will beep as well. For me, this is perfect! I’m one of those people who is able to break whenever I hear that noise and quickly sort through things. If I’m not at a breaking point, I wait an hour. No big deal. However, I know there are people out there that would go nuts always hearing that beep or being interrupted, so this part is up to you. If you get irritated with notifications going off, just get rid of them and have a scheduled part of your day where you can sort through things.

ANSWER ASAP : It’s so easy to let an email slip. If you’ve worked with me before, you know that I like to respond quick. For me, if I don’t respond or sort an email as soon as possible, it can slip away from me like THAT. But nobody is perfect and not everything can be answered right away. Clients always get first response from in my case, to keep things rolling. I then handle questions, inquiries, and casual emails as time sees fit. Usually on work breaks!

MARKINGS : This part goes along with the previous tip, actually! If I’m not able to answer an email right away, I’ve developed a system where the email remains in my inbox and is starred ( I use gmail, but other email clients have similar markings). Starred emails mean that I have yet to respond.

DON’T BE PERFECT : So at the end of the day, do I really mean that my inbox is empty? NO. Of course not! What I mean by INBOX ZERO is that by the time I turn off my computer, I have sorted emails into folders, answered as many emails as possible, and starred the rest for responding soon. Basically, I make sure I’ve cleaned up my mess from the day, that’s all! Keep up with things to the best of your ability, don’t try to be perfect, and things will shape up!

  1. Wow – I really need to implement all this! I have 553 emails in my inbox alone, and I’m horribly overwhelmed!

  2. I try and do the same thing! I have a million folders in my gmail. It’s really the only way to keep my head from swimming.

  3. Clare says:

    Do you use gmail? Is their labeling system like folders? I don’t know why I’ve never thought to do this before but after reading this I went and started organizing! But just labeling something doesn’t remove it from the page, does it? Thanks for this post!

    • bre says:

      yup, i use gmail!! the cool thing is that you can LABEL things, yes, but you can also shove them into folders, and they disappear from your inbox. that’s my favorite part! i hate having everything back up in there.

      happy organizing!!

    • Clare says:

      @Clare, Oh, thanks! I can’t believe I never noticed the folder icon up there before. This is going to make my life so much better!

    • demetri says:

      @Clare, You can also assign several different labels to one email and then click the “archive” button, which places the email into all the folders you labeled it as, while still removing it from the inbox. This is very useful for those emails that fit several categories, since you can then locate it in any folder you “labeled” it as.

  4. thanks for this needed info! i will be spending time cleaning my inbox!

  5. Trina says:

    Great post. I can attest that you have some mad skillz when it comes to quick responses! I’m feeling totally inspired. I’ve been organizing my bookmarks and now I’m moving onto e-mail. Hopefully I won’t stay up too late :)
    XO . trina

  6. Danelle says:

    I literally just tidied up my Mail folders about an hour before I read your post. I have 3 different email addresses and was saving everything into folders ‘on my Mac’ which was so freaking unhelpful if I needed to refer back to something when I was away from my computer. Now they’re all working perfectly and the only ones on my Mac are ones I consider ‘archived’.

    I also work similarly to you where the only emails left in my Inbox are ones I actually have to action, whether that be reply or I have it there as a reminder that I need to do that job or something.

    I’m all about Inbox zero!

  7. […] is another superstar, who gave the low down about her Inbox Zero policy. Gotta get those inboxes under control […]

  8. sarah says:

    Ok- This post has totally inspired me to clean up my email and keep it cleaned up. I think people see creatives as these terribly unorganized individuals, but we’re not! I’m freakishly organized in just about everything- BUT my inbox.

  9. BREANNA ROSE says:

    […] and Gmail is visually appealing to me. I use a combination of colored labels, folders, and my inbox zero policy to keep things […]

  10. BREANNA ROSE says:

    […] and how you’d like your day to proceed on a daily basis. For instance, I spend my mornings catching up on emails, marketing my blog, and catching up with twitter. Once those things are done, I have a good lunch […]

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