The majority of us, especially those office based, will receive a large number of emails every day. Add this to the number of personal emails a day we also receive, and we’re talking a lot of digital bombardment for all of our waking hours.
The reality is though, unlike text messages, calls or letters a lot of what we receive in our inbox doesn’t need a response. However I still used to check my inbox over breakfast, on the train and after dinner every day.
I would say that in my personal inbox, around 80% of what I receive are marketing campaigns or junk emails which are quickly deleted. 10% is around management of travelling, my blog and digital billing, and 10% is personal.
The amount I actually need to reply to or take action from remains at around 5-10%.
As I have pursued a more minimal lifestyle, I have become a lot more aware of the areas of my life which cause the most noise and unwanted clutter, and quite honestly my email inbox is one of the most demanding.
Less is more. It is something that I embraced a long time ago. I have less clothes so I spend less time worrying about what to wear, and spend less money on material items which don’t give me as much happiness as travelling.
I have fewer items in my house, which means less to clean, less to worry about and less to care about should it break or should I lose it.
So why, with this mindset, did I still subscribe and live with a cluttered inbox?
One day last year I decided enough was enough and I began the daunting but pretty worthwhile task of minimizing my inbox.
Minimising your inbox step by step:
You need to start by downloading the incredible app ‘Unroll Me’ (not sponsored!) and using it to immediately unsubscribe from all the unnecessary noise in your inbox such as social media updates, newsletters or voucher websites.
Take away email notifications from your phone. I check my phone emails twice a day now instead, and it allows me to live much more distraction free.
Filters are going to be your new best friend. Step one, go through your inbox and move everything you don’t need to respond to, and I mean everything into folders. Now add filters to the emails in the folders which don’t require your immediate attention.
For example, if you get a daily email from your blog with your post stats, filter it to always go into your ‘Blog Stats’ folder, and mark as read. You know to check it each day so why not let your email do the work for you.
Now all that should be left in your inbox, after using the Unroll Me App, moving to folders and filtering are the important interactions you need to address.
Each day, you need to decide to delete (if so make sure you filter it to always delete) read and not respond, or reply.
This will become much easier as your inbox responds to it’s new minimalistic set up.
So tonight, take half an hour, sort out your inbox and set up some rules.
From tomorrow, you will no longer be starting the day already a little behind because you don’t know where to start when it comes to addressing week old emails in your inbox, you’ll be ahead.
Emails can wait for a reply, but your life won’t wait for you to start living it.
Tomorrow: Take a room, and clear the walls and surfaces