How to Tackle Your E-mail Inbox

tackle your inbox

One of the things I hear people complaining about the most is their e-mail inbox. I get tons of e-mails a day regarding work, my blog, and then the good old spammers, so I completely understand. However, my current total of messages in my inbox is 13. And it rarely goes above 50. No, you don’t have to re-read that sentence to see if you read it correctly. Keeping an organized inbox that doesn’t overflow really isn’t that hard. I’m here to show you my ways, young grasshopper.

Make labels/categories for e-mails

If you use Gmail, it’s super easy. On the left-hand side, you have various labels that automatically come with Gmail, such as “Spam” “Important” and “Personal”. At the bottom of the sidebar there are blue links that say “Manage Labels” and “Create New Labels”. You’ll want to play around with them to your liking. For example, I have labels called “Blog” (where I keep all important blog-related e-mails such as brand inquiries, sponsorship e-mails, guest posting, advice from fellow bloggers, etc.) “Receipts” (where I keep order confirmation numbers, rebates and other related e-mails), “Work” (where I keep any work-related e-mails) and “Student Loans” (where I keep all the important e-mails and receipts regarding my student loans). This sounds pretty simple, but it keeps everything really organized. So instead of having an inbox of 300 messages of mismatched topics, you can have a smaller inbox and then go to each label based on what you’re looking for.

Unsubscribe from any e-mail you don’t want to receive anymore

It makes me mad when people complain about their inbox and then when I ask what’s in it they say “Oh just an e-mail from ShopBop, American Eagle, HauteLook, etc.” If you don’t want to get one each day, UNSUBSCRIBE. I always ask myself “Will these e-mails be beneficial to me each time they are sent?” If not, stop them. For example, I rarely buy things online from Victoria’s Secret, so I stopped getting their e-mails. 99% of their e-mails aren’t offering me 50% off, so why do I need to be bombarded with them? I say stick to just a handful of brands/stores that you shop at monthly and keep those. Some places have different levels of e-mail subscriptions- so maybe ask for a monthly e-mail instead of weekly or daily. Unsubscribing can usually be done at the bottom of the e-mail. If not, go to their website or help section to do so. Sometimes it takes up to a month to stop getting the e-mails, so keep that in mind.

Stop posting your full e-mail address on websites

This is how spammers get you. For example, if you leave your e-mail address written out like this: , it’s far more likely to get spam than if you add spacing or characters like this: rachel [at] lifeunsweetened [dot] com. I’ve found that since I’ve done this, my spam has dropped greatly. Writing your e-mail address in full in comment forms, order forms, and things of that nature are fine, this relates more to the text and HTML on websites.

Take time out of your day to clean out your inbox

I get it, you’re “sooo busy”, but you can take 15 minutes from your day to devote to your e-mail. I usually check my e-mail once in morning and once before I go to bed. Then since I work at a desk job, I can check it throughout the day periodically as well- depending on how busy I am. Use your lunch break if you have to. Getting rid of spam, unsubscribing from mass e-mail lists and responding to old friends, companies or bloggers can be done in 30 minutes. I promise.

Once an e-mail conversation is done with, get rid of it

As in trash it. E-mail hoarding can fill up your inbox and make it look cluttered. I only keep emails if they have important information that I’ll need again in the future. If you’re worried about losing contacts, add them to your address book and then delete the e-mails. Every week I go through and delete old e-mails that I no longer need. It takes two seconds and is slightly therapeutic. After I’ve replied to an e-mail in my inbox, I will immediately assign it to a label/folder. Since I wrote back last, I know that the e-mail doesn’t need to be replied to so it’s not important anymore. When the person responds back to me, it will show up in my inbox and become a priority once again. This helps prevent e-mails from getting lost or hidden underneath other ones.

What are your tips for keeping your inbox clean?


  1. Thank you for helping me to remember some of these things! I’ll always do so well with my email for a while and then let it fall to the wayside. Cleaning out my inbox will be my project tonight!

  2. These are all great suggestions! I try really hard to keep up with my email! I even unsubscribed from like 15+ places a few weeks ago. Probably still have 15+ more I could let go of haha. I unfortunately have to keep track of Google alerts for about 20 competitors of my company, so my inbox is really hard to keep up with these days!

  3. great tips, my only advice would be to have different emails for different things. I have one for work related stuff, another personal one for shopping and personal emails and another for the blog.

  4. Labels are a lifesaver! All important mail gets sent to my inbox. Ads, newsletters, etc automatically get filed away under their own label so they don’t clog up my inbox! It saves so much time since I only have to focus on the more personal emails that require my attention.

  5. great tips! I try to limit myself to checking my email only twice a day so I can be sure to stay on top of them. or else, i will constantly check and forget to reply (kinda like texts that you forget about!)

  6. Great tips! I’m definitely jealous of your 13 emails! My email inbox is always at 50+ definitely need to start incorporating your tips!

  7. Oh man. Inboxes are BRUTAL! These are fabulous tips…now I just have to get them going because my inbox is a hot mess! xx

  8. Organizing email is one of my favorite…and least favorite.. topics ever. My work email is impeccably organized into folders and categories, but my personal gmail is a hot.mess. I’m subscribed to so many random newsletters and retail email lists that I “need” to be on (NO I DON’T) that my inbox gets so overwhelming. I subscribed to, which sends you a daily digest/roll up of any email you want rolled. It’s handy because I put low priority things like Kate Spade emails into my rollup, but keep important bank emails and other things in my inbox! My gmail is nowhere near organized, but that certainly helped.

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