a man looks at his laptop in a frustrated fashion

Email Made Easy: 3 Ways To Declutter Your Inbox

A recent Google search for “reduce email inbox” turned up all sort and manner of helpful articles, most of which were tech-guy reviews of programs that sorted, organized, prioritized, filed, returned and even created responses to, email. None of the pieces I looked at, however, answered my basic question: How do I reduce my inbox traffic?

email-frustratedAnd that’s the problem. Email is a fact of life, and that’s fine. But when you get dozens, even hundreds, of them daily, more is needed than a snazzy filing and/or response system. It’s time to reduce the clutter up front.

1. Don’t subscribe.

It is easy, ever so easy, to read a good blog or article and promptly sign up to get more. And you’ll get ’em, all right, especially if the publication or blogger is on top of their game. What happens next is predictable: The “good stuff” get skipped over in order to address the work-related ones, and suddenly your new favorite blogger is reduced to 25 messages languishing unread in your inbox.

A better way to keep up with sites and people is to subscribe to an RSS feed. There are plenty of good, free readers out there like RSS Notifier, which can be installed quickly and easily. Then it’s just a matter of scrolling down the feed list and choosing what to read.

2. Don’t forward everything.

At Parthenon, we come across a lot of interesting stuff. When we do, we like to share, so every day there used to be a few good articles making the rounds, and suffering the same fate as those coming in from outside our four walls.

To release all this good content from inbox purgatory, Matt T. suggested that we use Kippt, an online archiving service with free base-level subscriptions. Now when one of us finds something, we pop it into the appropriate list, and everyone can choose whether they get an email alert or if the only want to see these things in their Kippt feed when they login.

3. Let it go.

If your emails are a digital version of this, it's way past time to thin the herd to what you're actually reading.
If your emails are a digital version of this, it’s time to thin the herd.

Lastly, purge that subscription list. Take a good, hard look at those regular emails and start pruning. You wanted that coupon once, but was it valuable enough to outweigh the 5 other weekly emails from the restaurant? Click on “unsubscribe” at the bottom of the message. It feels good. Or, use a service like Unroll.me to cut the clutter all at once.

Recurring emails are now what magazine subscriptions used to (and can still) be. It’s easy to jump into something, and easy to just stay there out of familiarity. But if you’re not digesting the content, or even reading it, then there’s no time like the present to say a fond goodbye. An inbox in the single digits will be your reward.