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5 best ways to clean up your email inbox

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Are you tired of the growing pile of unread messages in your email inbox? Do you ask yourself how to get on top of it? Do you want to learn how to clear your email inbox once and for all?

You’re not alone.

According to a Zero Bounce report, 61% of respondents prefer emails for work-related communication. Therefore, an unorganized and cluttered inbox can hinder your ability to track important communications. It may also affect your overall performance.

It’s crucial to learn how to clean up email inbox. In this article, we’ll explore five practical tips for keeping your email inbox organized. You can use these tips for Gmail, Outlook, or any other email provider to stay organized.

Let’s get started, shall we?

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Why is your email inbox full?

There are several reasons why your email inbox may be full. In fact, a Statista report shows an estimated 333 billion emails are sent and received daily around the world, so it’s little wonder that people struggle with inbox management.

Here are some of the main reasons why your email inbox is full.

A constant influx of emails: This can stem from various sources, such as:

  • Promotional emails, such as offers and discounts
  • Personal messages, such as social media notifications
  • Work-related correspondence, like newsletters
  • Transactional messages, such as subscriptions and online purchases

Emails with large attachments: Emails with large files, videos, or any other media take up a lot of space in your inbox. They also clutter your email, making it hard to keep track of important messages.

Not clearing your inbox regularly: If not cleared out periodically, emails will accumulate in your inbox over time. There’s a tendency for unread emails to get lost with the receipt of more recent emails.

Piling up spam and junk mail: Spam and junk emails clutter your inbox with irrelevant messages. Disregarding these emails results in the accumulation of unnecessary messages.

Is a cluttered email inbox an issue?

A cluttered email inbox can hinder productivity and efficiency. Hence, you need to find the best way to clean up email inbox.

In the following section, we’ll discuss a few reasons why a cluttered inbox is an issue:

Missed deadlines: Failure to learn how to clean your email might result in important emails getting lost in a pile of unread messages. You can easily overlook important messages, appointments, and deadlines. Aside from missing important information, this also creates an impression of unprofessionalism and disorganization.

Security risks: Phishing scams and malware often target unopened emails. A cluttered inbox increases your risk of overlooking malicious messages, leading to a data breach.

Difficulty prioritizing tasks: A cluttered inbox makes prioritizing emails difficult. You can’t prioritize emails based on urgency or importance. It delays your responses to important messages.

Storage limitations and performance issues: Your inbox has limited storage capacity, and unread emails consume lots of valuable space. This may lead to performance issues such as delayed loading times. It could also hinder the sending or receipt of new emails.

5 tips to clean up your email inbox

Learning how to clean up email inbox enhances personal and professional productivity. However, you must be cautious to avoid accidentally deleting important messages.

Here are five tips on how to clean your email inbox:

1. Don’t forget to unsubscribe

The best way to clean up your email inbox is email unsubscribes. Unsubscribe from mailing lists, promotional emails, and newsletters that you are no longer interested in receiving.

How to clear your email inbox is pretty straightforward. If you want to stop receiving irrelevant emails, click the “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of the email.

Unsubscribe option on Pinterest
Image via Pinterest

If the unsubscribe button is not clearly stated in an email, you can check the settings or preferences within your email client.

Some platforms provide options for managing subscriptions or blocking specific senders. You can use this to unsubscribe from unwanted emails.

You can also create folders for emails you wish to retain but don’t wish to clutter up your inbox. It’s still important to clear these folders regularly, though.

Unsubscribing to unimportant emails makes room for what is essential. This includes important communications, personal correspondence, and actionable tasks.

2. Use folders and labels

Folders and labels are essential for grouping emails, as well as locating important messages when needed.

Folders act as a form of filing for categorizing emails. You can sort emails based on their order of importance, sender, and content.

Create folders with descriptive titles that accurately represent their contents, such as “Receipts,” “Work Projects,” or “Personal Correspondence.”

Sort new emails into their designated folders as they arrive in your inbox. This ensures that important emails are well-organized and readily accessible.

You can also set up filters to route incoming emails to specific folders. You can reroute emails to designated folders using keywords, subject lines, or sender. This hands-off approach reduces the manual effort required to keep your inbox organized.

On the other hand, labels serve as visual markers. They provide additional context for emails, such as “Follow-up,” “Action Required,” or “Urgent.” You can use labels to tag emails with relevant themes and keywords, making it easy to find them later.

The example below highlights how to clear your email inbox using labels:

User folders and labels option on Pinterest
Image via Pinterest

3. Block spam messages instead of deleting them

There are different reasons emails go to spam. It’s important to note that deleting these emails only temporarily declutters your email inbox. It doesn’t address the root of the problem. Blocking spam at its source is a more permanent and proactive solution.

To stop spam messages from reaching your inbox, use the block feature of your email provider.

Email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, Apple Mail, and Outlook allow you to block email addresses that send you spam messages. For instance, the following steps can help you block spam email addresses on Gmail:

  • Check the box of the spam email you want to block
Spam messages block on Avast
Image via Avast
  • Click the vertical dots at the top of your inbox
  • Select the “Filter messages like these” option
Spam messages filter on Avast
Image via Avast
  • Choose the “Create Filter” option.
Spam messages filter creation on Avast
Image via Avast

From the list of actions that comes up, choose the “Delete it” option. Then, click the “Create Filter” button again.

Spam messages filter creation on Avast
Image via Avast

These features allow you to create an automated filtering system for identifying and blocking spam.

You can also report persistent spam messages to your email provider. By doing this, they can improve their filtering algorithms and enhance their overall email security.

4. Set up filters

Email providers often provide filters as a feature. They automatically categorize, sort, and label incoming emails based on predetermined criteria.

Filters allow you to direct emails to designated folders and label notifications for quick scanning. You can also automatically flag important emails from specific contacts to respond to them faster.

To set up your filters:

  • Identify the patterns in your email flow: Assess what types of emails are repetitive or not urgent. Determine what topics or senders you can group together.
  • Use the filter settings in your email client: Create specific filters and state the criteria for sorting incoming emails.

Here’s how to find the filter settings for Gmail:

1: Click on the systems icon on the top right corner of your Gmail.

2: Choose the Settings options

3: Click on the Filters option at the top of the Settings page

Gmail filter
Image via Pinterest

For your filters to be effective, you need to:

  • Define the conditions that trigger them: This could be sender email addresses, specific keywords in the body or subject line, or even attachments.
  • Choose the actions to take on matching emails: You could move emails to a designated folder. You could also apply a label and mark the emails as read, delete, or forward.
  • Review and refine your filters regularly: Adjust your filters to align with your changing workflow or the types of emails you receive. This ensures optimal efficiency and organization.

You can automate the sorting process and keep your inbox organized. Filters also allow you to focus on important tasks and messages while minimizing clutter or distractions. Pro tip: check out more tips on how to use Gmail.

5. Schedule regular cleanup sessions

Scheduling regular cleanup sessions ensures you always stay on top of your email inbox.

Some benefits of scheduling regular cleanup sessions include:

  • Prevents email overload: You can organize your inbox better by deleting obsolete emails. You can also unsubscribe from irrelevant content and archive important messages. This makes it easier to find essential information when needed.
  • Fosters better email habits: Regular cleanup sessions encourage efficient management. You’ll also be better at responding to emails because they’ll no longer be overlooked.
  • Optimizes your email organization workflow: It helps evaluate your labeling system, filters, and folder structure. This allows you to check their effectiveness and refine them to suit your preferences better.
  • Improves digital security: Regularly checking your email inbox helps you improve your ability to identify suspicious emails, and helps you safeguard your personal information.

Wrap up

There you have it! You now know how to clean out email fast.

Your email inbox can be full for different reasons, but there are multiple answers to how to clean up your email inbox. You could unsubscribe from irrelevant emails, use filters, folders, and labels, block spam messages, or schedule a cleanup to organize your inbox.

By combining these techniques, you can eliminate unsolicited emails and improve the efficiency of your email management.

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Bernard Meyer
Article by
Bernard Meyer

Bernard is the Sr. Director of Communications & Creative at Omnisend, with a passion for good research, helping ecommerce businesses with their marketing automation needs, and beating absolutely everyone in Mario Kart 64.


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