So we’ve given you a student’s guide to the KonMari method. And we’ve covered the digital decluttering process—a.k.a. how to KonMari your social media. Now get ready for how to achieve Inbox Zero, a magical blissful state in which your email is clutter-free and everything is right in the world.
There are two kinds of people. The ones who, by some miracle, have email app icons clean of those buzzing red notifs. And the ones with so many that just keep on going. If you find yourself relating to the latter, consider a shot at Inbox Zero—essentially, getting your email empty, pristine, and functional.
The idea of inbox zero can be elusive or even daunting for some people in this crazy-reactive world. Especially once you’ve allowed your email to spiral out of control. But is it achievable? Totally. It just takes time.
You’ll probably need at least an afternoon. Or a weekend, if your email’s in the 4-digits. So what are you waiting for? Get your digital life together! Here’s a step-by-step guide to achieving Inbox Zero!
Unsubscribe from useless stuff. Declutter your inbox with Unroll.me.
Instead of going through every subscription email and clicking unsubscribe, head to Unroll.me—which is a total lifesaver! You get to see all your subscriptions in one page, and you can unsubscribe or keep them in your inbox with just a click.
You don’t have to unsubscribe from everything. That’s what the Updates and Promotions tabs on Gmail are for. Keep newsletters and subscriptions that add value to your life, the ones that you love to read. Or the ones that spark joy, your call.
Delete spam and useless mail in bulk
If an email does not spark joy, delete it
— James Hamblin (@jameshamblin) January 7, 2019
Once you’re done unsubscribing, take advantage of Gmail’s advanced search. Use search functions like who it’s coming from—include subscription emails—and look up mail from beyond 6 months ago. If it’s from that long ago, it’s likely irrelevant. And if it’s from an email you’ve unsubscribed from, you’re likely not going to read it.
Speed read (or browse) your mail before you tackle your to-dos.
Once you’ve gotten rid of the all the junk, it’s time to tackle the stuff you probably need to read. Sometimes you’ll find that they still need to be deleted or sorted into folders.
Use Gmail’s keyboard hacks. J and K let you read the next and previous emails respectively once you’re in reading mode. [Shift +3] deletes an email. Bracket keys send emails to your archive and go to the next conversation.
Create labels and sublabels to organize your mail into categories
In Gmail, labels and sublabels are folders where you can sort your mail. Here’s an easy way to sort your unread messages in the meantime. Take advantage of this sorting method. Make labels as necessary.
Are you a student? Create a label for school and sublabels for your subjects and past semesters. If you have the same work and personal email, make that distinction. Create different labels for projects, categories, updates, and the newsletters or subscriptions you decided to keep.
Master Gmail filters to send email directly to folders instead of your inbox
Skip the sorting process altogether for future incoming messages. Here’s how to do it:
- Hit the search bar and look up a word, topic, email address, or anything you want to send into a folder directly.
- Click on the arrow to Show Search Options. Click on Create Filter. Fill or tick in the necessary boxes.
- Tick on “Skip the Inbox (Archive It)” and “Apply the label” and select the label of your choice.
- Tick on “Also apply to X matching conversations.” This will direct whichever emails you already have that match your search to your chosen label.
Treat your inbox as a to-do list and labels as to-do-later lists
So, inbox zero is an ideal but not a requirement. You can have a couple of messages and that’s okay. The point is to have as little emails in your main inbox as possible.
Keep what’s essential and urgent in your main inbox. What’s unread and can be taken care of later can go into respective labels for the meantime.
Check your email thrice a day, max.
It’s actually a bad habit to check email constantly—and it becomes a constant tick for people who’ve achieved inbox zero from inbox 3,000. Maybe it’s the paranoia that you might go back to that crazy number you used to have. But this just adds distraction to your daily life. The best times to check your email are: in the morning, before or after your lunch break, and in the evening before you end your workday. No more, no less.
Now that you’ve got these hacks down, go forth and tidy up! Check out more of our decluttering guides on our College Life section. What other working or tech hacks do you want to see on our blog? Check out more of our productivity tips and employment advice on the Edukasyon.ph blog!