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  • Writer's picturejondab

National Clean Out Your Inbox Week

I need this prompt myself. I am terrible at keeping up with decluttering my inbox. I know that digital clutter can hinder productivity the same way that clutter on my desk does.

I can use the same focus as I would on my desk by not asking what I want to get rid of but what I want to keep.

I have email anxiety as I think many others do. I am afraid that I will permanently delete something important. But if I have already made the decision that something is trash it is time to empty that trash folder. For me it’s the equivalent of taking donation items to the car and driving around with them for six months before actually getting them there.

A quick scroll through the Spam folder can do the same thing. I do want to look before deleting because I have had some important items go to Spam. However, if I don’t check regularly and it sits in Spam for months it is probably not valid anymore. So, after a quick look – delete items in Spam.

Now, it’s time to look into what is left.

I find it helpful to put a name or company in the search bar. That way I can easily see threads of messages and usually the last one is all I need to keep. It always surprises me what I have left in my inbox.

This is also a good time to unsubscribe to advertisements and donation requests that continually clog the works.

I know that my inbox is not supposed to be my do list just like the top of my desk is not the place to stack projects to tackle. The answer is the same as the desk – set up folders. I have done this in the past and when I take a look, I see folders that have appeared after a save when my computer crashed one time. These folders are all empty – the recovery did not save what was in those folders, so I delete them and set up fresh folders.

Like my desktop action folders, I need to move emails to the folder right away if I don’t have time to deal with them immediately. And just like the desktop folders, I need to schedule a time to visit them and take action. It an email can be answered immediately I need to do so.

The folders that I set up will reflect what is in my email. When working on an ongoing project it makes sense to have a folder to hold all correspondence concerning that project. When the project is complete that folder can be deleted.

The trick to keeping the inbox under control is to set up daily and weekly routines for maintenance.

I am going to work on this project not only this week but also for the rest of the month and see how far I get.

I challenge you to do the same and would love to hear any good advice in the comments section.

If you want some accountability in completing a project, organizing a space in your home, or managing your time join Diane Quintana and me on our Clear Space For You clutter support group.

Jonda S. Beattie, Professional Organizer owner of Time Space Organization, and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize. She is based in the Metro-Atlanta area. As presenter, award-winning author, as well as a retired special education teacher she uses her listening skills, problem solving skills, knowledge of different learning techniques, ADHD specialty, and paper management skills to help clients tackle the toughest organizational issues. Jonda does hands on organizing and virtual organizing. For more of Jonda’s tips connect with her on Facebook.

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Julie Bestry
Julie Bestry
Feb 02, 2023

I have a rule that I can't have more than 16 emails in my inbox at the end of the day; any more than that, and there's no white space between the bottom of my email list and the preview pane, and that stresses me out. I rarely get spam in my inbox, and I'm good about processing things quickly and getting them out of my inbox, and decent about only saving/archiving emails I think will be useful in the future. I use the rules function so that anything on a mailing list bypasses my inbox and goes to one of my Outlook folders. It turns the title of the folder to bold and puts the number of unread items…

Feb 02, 2023
Replying to

I always like your ideas. Since none of this is intuitive to me it all seems to take a lot of time.

As you are an expert, I have a question for you. I try to unsubscribe to items that keep appearing that I do not have an interest in but the other day when I tried to unsubscribe I got a warning from my security saying basically to back out. Now what?

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