Checking and responding to emails takes up 16% of the average workweek, and only 55% of workers maintain an empty inbox.
Whether it’s for your personal account, work account, or both, learning how to organize your email is one of the best things you can do to improve the efficiency of the entire process.
Setting up folders and filters turns your cluttered inbox into a neat and manageable area where specific messages are easy to find. Keeping multiple accounts organized provides added benefits, and so does using apps.
Read our guide for tips on organizing your email account so you can spend less time sorting through it and more time doing what you love.
How to Organize Your Email
There are several ways to go about cleaning up your email accounts, and while none are wrong, some work better than others.
The best methods include setting up a folder system, using filters, setting up multiple accounts, and using apps.
Set Up a Folder System
Looking at all your messages at once is overwhelming and counterproductive. It doesn’t help you figure out what each one is trying to say or how to respond.
All large sources of data have a system for organizing and searching through their contents. Libraries have card catalogs, books have indexes, and email inboxes have folders.
Creating folders should be the first step you take when cleaning up your email inbox because it makes the rest of the process much easier. You can use these helpful organizational tools to categorize emails in any way you choose.
You may want to create a folder for:
- Bills and/or payments
- Receipts, orders, and inboxes
- Personal or work projects
- Passwords and account information
- Miscellaneous emails
Fewer folders are better, and you shouldn’t have more than five. Too many will end up being too difficult to sort through and won’t save you the time you intended them to.
The mail client you use affects how you create folders, what types you can make, and what they’re called.
Outlook has only about 400 million users but provides some useful features. One of its best functions is the ability to create search folders. They allow you to group emails from a certain sender or based on a certain search term.
Gmail has taken over the email game with over 1.5 billion global active users. Part of its popularity may be its ability to help you keep a neat, organized inbox. Learn how to make folders in Gmail here.
85% of users check their email on their smartphones. Most email apps have features that allow you to categorize messages.
Whatever email client you use, folders make it easier to manage. Instead of looking at a mass of messages, you’ll be able to find the content you need.
Once you’ve decided how to organize your email, you can take the next step in the process. Automate your organization and manage incoming messages using filters.
These handy tools search for emails that use specific terms. This could be a phrase, a sender’s name, or anything else you need it to be.
Once you’ve created a filter, you can customize what you want it to do with the messages it finds. They can be deleted, archived, marked as important, and/or put in a folder.
This customizability means you can make a filter for almost anything, from messages from family members to important work emails. Creating a spam filter to avoid unwanted messages is one of the best ways to clean your inbox.
Approximately 67% or over 196 billion of the 293.6 billion emails sent every day are spam. Spam filters help avoid this by sending unwanted messages to a spam folder that’s already been set aside.
Most email clients have a built-in spam filter, but it’s also possible to make your own for custom protection and organization.
Have Multiple Accounts
Most email users have 2 accounts, one for work and one for their own personal use. If you’re asking yourself why anyone would ever need more than one, there are several reasons to keep in mind.
When you have two accounts, you know who’s sending you which emails and what account they’re going to. This keeps your messages organized and makes them easier to find.
It’s also less intimidating to categorize messages when they’re already split into two different inboxes. Organizing work and personal emails separately is easier than trying to tackle them all at once.
If you don’t have more than one account right now, the problem is easy to fix. Set up a new account, move all the necessary emails into it, and change the login details for all subscriptions you want to send emails to the new account.
Even the best efforts to clear out your inbox may not remove all unwanted messages. Folders and filters don’t always work as intended.
One of the best things to do if you still find yourself stuck with a cluttered inbox is to look for dedicated apps. There are several types on the market, and two of the best varieties are alternative mail and combination messaging apps.
Alternative mail apps offer extra features not available in traditional services like Outlook or Gmail. Other apps bring all forms of messaging together in one place.
High-quality programs like these make receiving, sending, and organizing your messages even easier. This reduces the time you spend on them and lets you work more efficiently.
Where Can I Learn More?
Understanding how to organize your email accounts has several benefits. It allows you to reach the coveted status of inbox zero with no messages to sort through. It also saves time that you can use for more important tasks throughout the day.
The best ways to keep your inbox clean are to set up folders and filters, create multiple accounts, and use apps. There are other methods that work as well, and anything you do to keep your inbox clean will improve your efficiency.
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