Five steps for spring-cleaning your inbox

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We all know about sprucing up your house in spring, but what about all that digital clutter? An overflowing inbox can be stressful and leave you feeling tethered to your screen, so a good clean-up could be just what you need. These five tips will help you tidy and manage your emails.

1. Take immediate action
We’ve all been guilty of reading an email, marking it as ‘unread’ and saving the response for later, or simply leaving them to pile up, unopened. Some emails may require a thoughtful reply, but many can be handled with a simple line or two. So why put off something that you can deal with right now? You’ll thank yourself later for being proactive. As for those spam emails and special offers – either read or delete!

2. Be ruthless
It’s easy for read emails to quickly pile up and, before you know it, you have hundreds or evens thousands of messages idly taking up space. Set aside some time to go through and purge anything you no longer need – and be brutal. Do you really need to keep that horoscope alert from December? Will you ever visit that discount shoe shop? The same goes for sent emails – you may like to keep an amusing exchange with a friend, but you only need to save the last email in the thread. The rest can go in the digital bin.

3. Rank and file
A clear and organised filing system will provide a logical place to stow your saved items. Keep your categories broad and simple, such as ‘business’, ‘funny’, ‘finance’ and ‘travel’, and use sub-folders if you want to be more specific. Once you have a system in place, it’s important that you use it – this means moving emails to a relevant folder or deleting them.

4. Ban spam
Nothing clogs an inbox quicker than junk mail. Those pesky promotions and updates can flow in thick and fast – whether you’ve subscribed or not. There are several ways you can tackle this problem: firstly, ensure you have your email filters turned on to sift and remove spam emails. Every email service provider is different, but you should be able to control this in your email settings. Then you may choose to manually delete existing junk in your account – a rather tedious task – or you could try an app such as Unroll.Me, which will streamline the process.

5. Bring in the experts
If all of this seems too difficult, you may want to call in some backup. Mailstrom is a simple and efficient program, compatible with Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo, which allows you to sort through your emails with just a few clicks. File, delete, unsubscribe and block in record time. You can try it for free, but then it costs about $4.95 per month. If you want to take a break from receiving new mail, Inbox Pause allows you to put messages on hold until you’re ready.

Do you have any other tips for managing your emails? Have you found a clean inbox helps you to de-stress?

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Written by Louise Baxter



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