Challenge #16 – Email Inbox

Today we try a whole new kind of project – clearing out our email inbox!

Today we try a whole new kind of project—clearing out our email inbox!

Since we are conducting an electronic sort, we won't need our regular supplies.


Depending on how frequently you delete email, this will be either an easy hit or a task you’ve been dreading. Like it or not, we live in an age where electronic communication is prolific. Emails and texts are constantly pouring in, and the temptation is to ignore them.

Sometimes this is a smart decision—after all, getting distracted by each incoming message can easily derail us from accomplishing our work. However, we need to schedule regular times to review and process our email just as we do any other item which comes into our lives.

If you are staring at an overflowing inbox, the first thing you need to do is set aside a little time. I suggest you work on a computer, rather than on your phone, so you can sort and see things more easily.

Begin by sorting your inbox by “From” or “Name.” This will enable you to quickly see who sent each email—the most important piece of information for helping you know whether to keep it.

Now it will be obvious which are spam. I suggest you go into one of each of the spam emails and, if possible, “unsubscribe.” As a second line of defense, mark at least one of each as “spam/junk” using your email options. Now you can go through, highlight in large blocks, and delete.

After you have gotten rid of the obvious spam, the next step is to sort through those that may have content you either need to remember, act on, or respond to. To help with this process, create folders in your email with these names. As you read each email, either:

  1. Delete it (its old, you missed the window for responding, its irrelevant, etc.)
  2. Move it to “Respond” folder (you need to make a decision and get back to someone)
  3. Move it to “Action” folder (you need to perform some task before you can delete it)
  4. Move it to “Remember” folder (you don’t want to delete it, but you don’t want it sitting in a general inbox where you will forget it.)


You may want to create sub-folders within these three that help you. For example, within the “Remember” folder you may have categories of things you want to remember. Or within “Action” you may have different clients, and want a separate folder for each client.

Unlike some of the other projects we’ve been tackling this month, the email inbox needs to be cleared out much more frequently than once or twice a year. It needs to be addressed at least daily, if not more often. Each person handles this responsibility differently, but if you find you hate this task, and tend to procrastinate, make a conscious effort to use “down time” (e.g. waiting in the pick-up line, sitting “on hold”, sitting at the airport, etc.) to pull out your phone and delete, delete, delete.

Let us know how its going, and good luck!

Submitted by Seana Turner, founder and President of The Seana Method

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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