How to Declutter Your Email Inbox

The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Sharon at Mom of 6.

Here on OrgJunkie, we talk all of the time about decluttering our homes- our dressers, our drawers, our closets, our cabinets…. but electronic clutter is just as important to eliminate! Sure, it doesn’t take long to delete those few extra emails every time you check in your inbox…. but you know when you have those days when you only check email once and your inbox has 215 new messages, and in your haste to delete all of the “junk” you accidentally trash the notice about your child’s school yearbook payment being due? And then your child ends up being the only one not to get a yearbook in June? (Not that this has ever happened to anyone I know…. ahem).

How to Declutter Your Email Inbox
Less junk and a proper filing system for email helps you to keep this very active area of your life decluttered, organized, and accessible to you. In short- a decluttered inbox creates more peace. Convinced? Good! Here’s how to do it:


1. Ruthlessly Unsubscribe!

Declare February your dedicated unsubscribe month! Every single time you check your email- before you delete a store sales notice, an industry newsletter, a facebook group update notification- ask yourself if you really need to be receiving this information in email form. Chances are- if you are quickly deleting it- you don’t. I know that I will enter my email address on a retailer’s website all of the time, so that I can get a discount code or print a coupon to use that day. But that doesn’t mean I need to stay in a committed relationship with their daily email list! And certainly- the less sales notices I receive, the less tempted I am to click through and check out what’s on sale… and spend money that I don’t need to be spending!

Every email newsletter should have an Unsubscribe link at the bottom. Yes, sometimes it can be hard to find- but it should be there. For emails generated as notifications (such as from Facebook, Yahoo groups, etc), you will likely need to log into your account and change your account preferences to stop receiving those emails.

Now of course, there is one exception to this…. you don’t want to delete your email subscription to OrgJunkie or Momof6…. I mean- that’s email that you need! :)

2. Read and File

Set up a system of email folders- so that when you read an email- you can immediately file it into the proper folder for reference later if needed. The goal here is to keep your main inbox empty of all emails except ones that you have not yet read, or that you need to reply to today.

I know that some folks like to have certain emails directed immediately to a specific folder upon receipt (such as emails from the soccer coach funneling right into the “Soccer” folder)- and never have it pass through their main inbox. Personally, I am not a fan of that practice- I like to see everything once, read (or scan) it and then either delete it or file it. I don’t want to have to check several folders for unread messages each day- I worry that somtehing important will slip by me.

empty inbox

3. Once a Day- Clean Up the Inbox Until It’s Empty

I try to do this first thing each morning and then again at the at end of the day. I start at the top and either respond, delete, or file each and every email until my inbox is empty. If an email creates a longer-term task for me- I’ll add the task to my weekly to-do list and then file the email in the proper folder until I am ready to tackle that task. I don’t need that email staring at me from the inbox all week….. because I will be tempted to open it and spend time working on that issue- when I have other priorities to meet!

So are you ready to declutter your email inbox? And can I get any testimonials from fellow empty-inboxers?

Sharon Rowley Head Shot 150 x 150 Thumbnail If you get a chance, I hope you’ll stop by to see me at Momof6 – a place where I write about organizing your home, using a family calendar, creating household routines, hosting at-home birthday parties, and holding a DIY summer camp! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter (@sharonmomof6), and Pinterest!


Have a great weekend!

Linking up: Six Sisters Stuff, Your Homebased Mom, Skip to My LouHome Stories A to ZA Bowl Full of Lemons

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Technology


16 Responses to How to Declutter Your Email Inbox

  1. 1
    Danelle - Tattered Treasures says

    I started doing this in January and it has relieved a huge stress. Every time I logged in I was overwhelmed with the amount of emails I had to look through to find the one I needed.

  2. 3
    Gwen says

    I also like to declutter email regularly. To cut down on newsletters to email, I use a blog reader for as much as possible. That way everything I haven’t read is sitting and waiting for me when I have the time to sit and enjoy them. I use newsify and choose the newspaper view. Visually appealing, enjoyable reading and not cluttering my inbox.

    I also move emails to one note that I need to keep for a time or deal with later. One note holds all my to do lists, so I like keeping them there rather than email folders. And if the email has details about an event on my calendar, I just copy and paste it to the calendar event. Why have to open another app to get the infirmation?

  3. 4
    Tiffany says

    I know you said you don’t like to set things up to go straight to another file, but I do use that trick for all the emails I get from retailers. I found that I was shopping a little too much when things were coming into my inbox, but I didn’t want to miss out on coupons or sale notifications when I actually need something. It’s simple to pop over to my shopping file to see which retailer has a coupon for the item I need. And, it’s still important to cull through those emails like you mentioned above. Just because I shopped at a store once for something for my sister-in-law doesn’t mean that I need to keep getting emails from them.

  4. 5
    Denny says

    Thank you for this “how-to” with specific details about how to go about it. Going to do that today. Focus is really important for me to stay on track. Thanks!

  5. 6
    Ann says

    This is a never-ending chore that I’m working on. I’ve been doing the “unsubscribe” thing, but I still have days that I just want to throw everything in the trash (in my email as well as my snail mail!). Thankfully, it is a lot more under-control, especially since I started sorting things. Thanks for all of your great tips!

  6. 7
    Emily says

    Thank you so much for your tips! I had over 5,000 emails in my inbox at the beginning of the afternoon, and now I have zero! I think keeping it that way will definitley help me stay more organized and even be a better friend! Thanks again!

  7. 8
    SusieQTpies says

    I deleted over 20,000 emails in January and I feel sooooo awesome for it! It took time but so well worth it. It is so much easier to keep up with all of it now!

  8. 9
    Nicole says

    If I’m doing a large purge (and I’m talking 20-40 emails here) first I sort by name of sender. Somehow that makes it easier to see what is worth keeping/needs dealing with.


  9. 10
    Kathy says

    I am sitting on about 27,000 emails right now and this is the fourth post I’ve read and two days so I am going to put all that advice together and see if I can’t get this cleaned up. I am one that gets really really bothered by the email clutter. Other people say don’t worry about it if you can’t see it doesn’t matter. I don’t see it that way. Thank you for the awesome advice.

  10. 11
    Erinn S says

    I agree-my inbox is insane. One day I took hours unsubscribing. I really need to do this! March will be that month. I just made myself that promise-thanks for the inspiration!

  11. 12
    Debbie says

    I definitely agree that it’s ideal to keep your email clutter free! On another note, Sharon at mom of 6- you resemble that actress that played Mary on 3rd Rock from the Sun! ????

  12. 13
    C. Lee Reed says

    Great tips on keeping control of my inbox. I always use folders but they tend to get overcrowded too. I usually take the first weekend of the month to declutter folders!

  13. 14
    Katia @ I Love Organized Space says

    Great suggestions. I definitely preach this to my clients. I also would add that it is very important to do major clean up once a year following all the steps you outlined! It’s amazing how even with the best systems in place clutter can still accumulate!


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