How to Declutter Your Inbox (10 Email Cleaning Tips!)

Sharing how to declutter your inbox wasn’t a topic I thought about writing. Then my partner was shocked to see my email account had over 10,000 unread emails.

She told me that’d be a great topic to write about. Like any smart man, I listened.

It’s something we all struggle with. Our inboxes getting so full, we don’t want to be bothered with fixing it.

Continually getting app notifications of new messages we don’t really care about.

I’ve had AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, and Zoho accounts filled with messages I never opened. Some of you may have had hundreds of unopened messages in Hotmail or Outlook too.

But we’re minimalists. So, let’s try to declutter every area of our life by doing some digital spring cleaning.

Here’s some ideas and hacks to help you declutter your digital mailbox.

1. Priority inbox

Some accounts, like Gmail, feature a “Priority Inbox”. It puts new emails in two separate places in your inbox. A place for mail that’s important, and a place for mail that isn’t.

The system determines it based on the subject line and the sender. When I look at my emails, I know my mind is only searching for the ones I normally open.

Save time not having to look through daily newsletters and updates. The priority system will show the most important messages you want to see.

Here’s how to set up priority inbox. For other mail service providers, do a quick Google search for priority inbox plus the email provider you use (Ex: Yahoo priority inbox).

2. Filter

Most accounts automatically come with filters. As an example, my account has filters for notifications and newsletters. Gmail has social, updates, forums, and promotions as folders.

Select emails in your inbox that you read only occasionally. Put it in the folder you see fit, and it won’t appear in your main inbox.

Seect email
Move to

Feel free to click on each folder once a day to see if you missed anything. I check out if there’s anything interesting in the newsletters I’ve subscribed to.

Any mail you get often that just really annoys you (family and bills don’t count), you can mark as spam. Be sure to keep the filters to a minimum of five or less.

3. Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t read

You don’t have to keep receiving newsletters that aren’t giving you value. There’s always an option to unsubscribe at the bottom of the email.

It’ll save a ton of time not having to check it off and click delete. Scroll to the bottom of the newsletter and look for an unsubscribe option.

Once you see it, click on it, and it should lead you to unsubscribing. Following this tip will drastically decrease the number of emails you get.

In my account, most of the emails I don’t open as often are newsletters. Unsubscribe from ones that are no longer helpful. The ones you still occasionally read, filter accordingly.

4. Use your calendar

I keep my work emails in my inbox to remember what task I need to complete. If you do the same, try putting the tasks in your work mail on a calendar.

Schedule when you’re going to do tasks, follow-up with colleagues, or schedule appointments. That way you can delete the email, and it’ll no longer take up space.

5. Email selection shortcut

Some of you may know this shortcut already, but it’s a pretty neat trick. Let’s say you want to move all emails from last year out of your main inbox.

Click the last one from last year and then hold the shift button. Go all the way to the first one from last year, and then check it.

Check set

Every message from those two points should be selected. Then select whichever button in your account moves the mail to a different section.

In Gmail, it’s the “Move to” button shown in the second tip.

6. Search common senders

It can seem daunting going through which mail to delete. But there is a way to make it easier. Most accounts have a search box.

Mail search

Search a common sender you receive mail from often. Once they come up, select all, and then delete. If you haven’t opened mail from that sender in months, you probably won’t miss it.

Any old emails from friends or family, you can archive.

7. Clean up your mail once a week

Like me, you may have thousands of emails to go through. Needless to say, you won’t clean it all up in one day.

Break it down in pieces. Schedule a time once a week (or month) to do some digital spring cleaning.

Move or delete some emails that day. Over time, you’ll have made a lot of progress cleaning up your account.

8. Use one inbox for all your accounts

Forwarding mail from all addresses to one inbox can keep you organized. Some services offer their own version of how to set one up.

Here’s how you can do it for Gmail or Outlook. If you want your mail from all providers you use in one place, try an email client app or software.

9. Delete after responding

As your decluttering your inbox, new emails won’t stop coming in. A quick way to declutter these new emails is to delete after responding.

This works best if you know you won’t need the message after you respond. Perhaps one where you’re just responding to say thanks or you’re welcome.

10. Separate work and personal accounts

Have less to sort through in the future by separating your work and personal mail. It’s the same principle of not mixing home and work life.

Just as you leave work at the office, leave work emails in your work accounts.

Decluttering is a practice that should influence all your life, from the physical to the digital. Organize your digital mailbox to make looking at your account easier and less stressful.

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