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Dear Elusive Inbox Zero:
I’m coming for you. I know you’re supposedly attainable, but the thought of tackling the 35,000+ emails left unread in my inbox is completely overwhelming. With everything from affiliate marketing emails to store coupons and receipts to teacher communications and everything in between, I’ve found myself missing emails because I have so many to sort through!
I’m enlisting your help, inbox zero. Together we are going to drop the dead weight that’s been weighing down my email inbox. I don’t want any back-talk or defiance from you. I know it’ll be hard, but we got this!
KonMari Method of Clearing Digital Clutter
I’ve been decluttering my home for the past year via the KonMari method. Most people know about decluttering with Marie Kondo from her book and Netflix series where she visits families’ homes and helps them get rid of unwanted items, keeping only that which ‘sparks joy’.
But decluttering your inbox is just as important as improving the space in your home.
Imagine the peace of knowing your email to-read list is completely caught up!
To get to inbox zero using the KonMari method, follow these steps:
1. Does this Digital Item Spark Joy?
Ask yourself the common KonMari question, “Does this digital item spark joy in my life?” Business emails are a necessity, and you can’t really get around them. But what about the email lists you subscribed to in order to receive 10% off that one time? Do these companies offer value or are they just cluttering your inbox? It’s time to let them go.
You might also be signed up for text alerts in addition to emails. Choose one or the other and unsubscribe to cut back on messages.
2. Turn off/Mute Notifications
Do you have email notifications set up on your iPhone or computer? Notifications can be your worst distraction when it comes to getting things done. It can also make you feel anxious when you have a list of unread items.
What does your home screen look like? Do you have silent notifications that pile up on the home screen? Start by turning off this feature. You’ll feel so much better not having what feels like a massive “to-do” list.
If they’re truly important, set up the contact as VIP in your iPhone. Follow these instructions on how to set up a sender as VIP in iCloud.
3. Time Block your Decluttering Sessions
Spend 10 minutes at a time unsubscribing and mass-deleting emails. Don’t overthink it. Just set a timer and get to work! Rather than sort through your email inbox yourself, you can sign up for a service to do the work for you.
This makes the daunting task of inbox zero so much easier! Here are two apps to help you get started:
- Boomerang for Gmail – This is a free plugin that allows you to schedule emails to send at a later time and temporarily hide email messages to “boomerang” back to you at a later time. It allows you to put off some tasks until later without completely forgetting about them!
- Unroll.me – Also totally free is Unroll.me…an email management service that quickly and easily helps you unsubscribe from multiple companies all at once! When I first signed up for unroll.me, I was notified that I have 129 email subscriptions. YIKES!
Once you click “Start Editing”, Unroll.me lists all of them in alphabetical order. This is, in my opinion, the easiest (and cheapest) way to get to inbox zero. By unsubscribing, you’ll stop future emails as you’re decluttering your inbox.
Here’s a look at my Subscriptions after about 5-7 minutes. Down from 129 subscriptions to only 57! A vast improvement!
4. Categorize your Emails
I made the mistake of merging my personal email with my business email accounts (3 total) to “make things simpler”. Not only should you separate business from personal accounts, but you should also consider categorizing your emails.
Set up folders for the following category folders so that you can find emails easier:
- Business Receipts
- School/Teacher Communications
- Personal Development
- Real Estate
- Legal Documents
There are no rules for creating folders. Just do what makes sense in your particular situation.
Final Thoughts on Inbox Zero
While Inbox Zero seems like a daunting task, I’m confident it can be achieved with a little work every single day. You don’t have to get it all done at once (especially if you have 35,000+ unread emails). Consistent changes make a powerful impact on your productivity and overall well-being.
Life is a collection of memories and experiences. There are ups and downs. I am so grateful for God’s grace and am on the journey to a renewed spirit, free of perfectionism. Perfection Hangover offers the sober truth – no filter.