This is part 1 of the tools and strategies of getting to inbox zero. I wrote about why I have set this goal and my aim towards inbox zero in another post that you can read at the link below if you haven’t read it yet:
Working towards inbox zero
I have several email accounts however I have only 3 main ones that I actually use. The other email accounts I have are for spam, newsletters and mailing lists.
This is a great idea to keep your main email address focused only on communication with other people and important emails however it also means I have email addresses that are full of emails I will never read and probably never intended to in the first place. Usually I signed up because the only way to get the free ebook or information was by entering an email address but I never cared much about the ongoing newsletters.
I’ve decided to focus on the main email accounts first, they’re all gmail and they’re important so clearing them out will make a massive difference.
Strategies for inbox zero
Unsubscribing from newsletters and rolling them up
It’s discouraging to be deleting emails only to have more come in, you feel like it will never end, you delete a hundred newsletters and then the next day more newsletters and promotional emails come in.
The first step was to unsubscribe from emails to slow the flow of new emails. I use unroll.me which is a great way to bulk unsubscribe from emails and then add any future emails you want to keep into a daily or weekly summary.
This also gave me a list of email addresses and newsletters that I was subscribed to that had filled up my inbox that I could bulk delete.
You check out unroll me here: http://unroll.me
Searching and deleting emails
Ok, sure this is an obvious strategy but it’s not as easy as you may think.
I have over 10,000 unread emails in one inbox, there are emails I would like to keep as they may be related to receipts, tax, login details etc.
After getting a list of newsletters and email addresses from newsletters I was subscribed to in the past I started searching for these in gmail.
I changed the number of emails shown on each page to 100, this meant that it was easy to see more emails on one page and understand how many pages of emails there were too delete. 10,000 emails with 100 emails per page meant I now had 100 pages to go through.
I went to the search box, then pasted the email addresses, press the drop down arrow to the right near the search button and made sure it was in the from: email address box. You can also type From: then the email address and it will have the same result.
A the top it will show the search results and if you select all it will change to tell you the additional emails on other pages.
Eg. 100 emails selected, another 150 on other pages, do you want to select all?
You can then select all of the emails and press delete.
Because the emails are split up by 100 per page, you can tell that if there are 200 emails, you’ve deleted 2 pages of emails. This was great at the start when 100 pages of emails seems like a lot but then every newsletter subscription had about 100 or more emails so I was deleting pages very quickly and making a big impact on deleting my emails.
A great strategy with gmail is using labels.
If you don’t know what labels are, they are a feature of gmail where instead of putting an email in a folder or deleting it, you can label it with a word or phrase is relevant to that email.
You can then archive it to remove it from your inbox but if you ever want to find that email again you select to display all emails with that label.
This is great for keeping emails for future reference but removing them from your inbox.
I created labels for tax, receipts, logins, emails from friends, websites, trading and lots more. This allowed me to let go of the worry that if I deleted the email I would lose it forever as I could store the email and easily find it again if I ever needed it.
I also had to let go of the idea that I was actually going to read these emails anytime soon as often I would see an email, think that I would read it soon so I would keep it in my inbox, I never got the chance to read it but then I see it again and think I want to read it before deleting it so I keep it, this way when I actually did ever decide to read it, I could easily find it again.
Part 2 of getting to inbox zero and the results coming soon….