You've Got {Too Much} Email! - Final Update + Lots of Tips | From Overwhelmed to Organized: You've Got {Too Much} Email! - Final Update + Lots of Tips
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

You've Got {Too Much} Email! - Final Update + Lots of Tips


Well, it's the last week of the "You've Got {Too Much} Email" challenge! I've still got more emails to delete, but I'm calling this challenge done.

Tonight I'll give you this week's update (it was a good week!) and I'll give you lots of tips I picked up along the way.


If you're just joining in and you're not sure what this challenge is all about, the end of this post has links to all the posts in this series.  If your inbox is overwhelming, you can still tackle it!

My weekly (and final) update:




I cut out the columns with the numbers from the first 8 weeks so it wouldn't be so wide and you could actually read it.  And I added in total columns at the end to show the total number of emails deleted from each folder as well as the number remaining as of today.

I deleted 520 emails this week!  One of my better weeks (other than the week I deleted 3000+ "easy" emails!).

This week I cleaned up a few emails from several folders, but I mainly focused on my inbox.  I can't believe I had over 500 emails in it at the start of this challenge.  But I've got it down to just 6 emails now!

I'm seriously feeling like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  When I open my email now, there's empty space where 500 other emails used to be.  Makes me smile.  I prefer to smile than feel overwhelmed :)

When I actually tackled my inbox, I found tons of emails that I never should have kept.  They basically fell into 4 categories:

  1. Emails that I never even read.  Why you ask?  Usually because they weren't as important as whatever else I had going on that day so I so I kept them to read later.   Eventually they just got buried and I never opened them.  I seriously had about 200 of these! How crazy was I to keep all those?!  {Side note:  I've unsubscribed from a BUNCH more sites based on which emails had remained unopened all that time :) }
  2. Emails that I kept to refer back to.  In the end I either didn't really need these, or I could find the information somewhere else (or they were now outdated!).
  3. Emails that contained ideas I wanted to try.  I pinned those now, since I'm far more likely to look on Pinterest for ideas now.  
  4. Emails that I needed to follow up on.   This was the category that always overwhelmed me.  I KNEW I had emails in my inbox that I needed to do something with.  But if I didn't deal with them right away, they tended to get buried quickly (under all those emails from the other 3 categories in my inbox as well).  So I never followed up on them.  And I didn't delete them.  And they nagged at me every time I opened my inbox.  Until this week!  Many were no longer relevant, but I found a few that I took care of this week.  Phew!
Now that my inbox is nearly empty, I can see exactly what is there, and I'll always be able to deal with emails that require follow-up. 

Keeping it this way:


Some email tips (even those I've shared during this series) suggest having a "To Follow-Up" folder for emails that require some sort of action.  The idea is that you move those emails to that folder so you can keep your inbox clear.  

I think that's a great idea, but I'm a bit of an "out of sight, out of mind" kind of gal {as evidenced by the fact that I had so many emails buried!}.  I don't think I'd remember to check that folder often enough.  

So, for me, I think I need to keep my inbox as my place for emails to deal with.  That's why I have those 6 emails in my inbox right now.  

The important thing moving forward is making sure I'm deleting all other emails as they come in!

To make sure I don't let my inbox fill up too much ever again, I will make sure it never goes beyond 1 page.  You heard me here!  If it's getting too full to fit on a page (that's 50 emails!) then I'm way behind on either following up on emails or deleting emails.  Both are unacceptable if I want to maintain a minimal inbox.  

So every once in awhile, please email me or post a comment asking me how many emails are in my inbox.  I'm serious.  I need accountability :)

You can see in the chart above, I highlighted the inbox because I want to remind myself to keep that under control.  I also highlighted two folders that I still need to work my way through.  I know there are still tons of emails in those 2 folders that I can delete.  And a bunch that I want to pin.

I will continue to work through those.  I hope to get those down to nearly empty soon!

So, grand total, I deleted over 6600 emails and eliminated 7 folders.

So. Much. Better.

Tips to help YOU clean out your inbox:


The biggest tip I'd recommend is to sort emails by sender rather than by date when you're doing an email purge.  This made it so much easier for me to make quick decisions on what to keep and what to delete.  It's kind of like grouping similar items when you're organizing :)

I found sometimes I had duplicate strains of the same email thread and if I needed to keep the thread, I just kept the final email, rather than any of the earlier emails.

I could also quickly see if I had a lot of unread emails from a particular sender.  If I did, then I unsubscribed, because obviously the content wasn't as important or relevant as other emails.  {This doesn't apply to friends and family... I always read those emails!}

More tips from around the web:


Here are 2 bloggers who share tips for keeping an inbox empty or nearly empty.

How I Took Control Of My Email Inbox by Andrea Dekker

How I Keep My Inbox To Fewer Than 5 Emails by Money Saving Mom


Here are a few programs or sites to help you unsubscribe or deal quickly with incoming emails.

Unsubscriber and Unroll.me:  Two Programs That Help You  Clean Up Inbox Clutter  by Unclutterer

{no picture in this article - very cool idea though!}


I've also pinned more articles and posts on my Office Organizing board on Pinterest.  


Did you miss any tips for this series?


If you did, here's a list of what tips I included each week.  Check them all our or pick one that you think will make the most difference for you.

Why delete emails, how the challenge works & free tracking sheet

More on how the challenge works & "Done is better than perfect"

Tips for deleting "Easy" emails

Tips for both the "project" phase of cleaning up your inbox and the "maintaining" phase

Challenge Update Week 4
Dealing with emails as they come into your inbox

Becoming an email "ninja"

Processing lots of emails efficiently

Challenge Update Week 7
How to Take Control of Your Email Inbox

Challenge Update Week 8
7 Steps to Email Success

If you haven't downloaded your free spreadsheet or free printable tracking chart, click the appropriate link to get yours and then jump in and start deleting!

Don't forget, you can still do this challenge at any time!  I'd love to help you declutter your inbox :)

A new challenge for July!


As I mentioned last week, I will be starting a new challenge in July...  organizing photographs (printed and digital)!  More details next week.

'Fess up... how many of you are overwhelmed by unorganized photographs?  Yep, me too :)  I hope you'll join me!


Check out the Challenges tab to see the rest of the posts in the series!


Thank you to all of you who have shared your tips, struggles, and success stories during this challenge.  It was fun doing this challenge with you!

Happy organizing!



I link up at these great parties - Check them out!

6 comments:

  1. Love it! Way to go! I agree about the 'follow up' folder. I would never look at it, so my Inbox is my focus folder too. I keep it so that all the messages are visible, or close to it and clean out if it gets more than that. All the rest of my folders are set to auto archive (which means delete) after three months. I just don't believe I need anything longer than that, and I rarely look at those messages in those three months. I file and forget 'em..and auto archive cleans 'em out for me :) Congrats on your clean out!

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    1. Thanks Melissa! Auto archive is a great tool for keeping your folders under control. As for the follow up folder vs. inbox, I think everyone just needs to know themselves to decide what would work best for them. Thanks for sharing your tips!

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  2. Oh gosh, if I had a follow up folder I would never respond to any email. lol I star the ones I need to follow up on in my gmail accounts. I tend to notice the star for whatever reason. I also checked off the box in settings that will move any starred item to my primary inbox, which makes it really easy to see what I need to deal with. I can't wait until July's challenge starts. Photos, especially the digital copies, are the one thing I always put off dealing with. I put them on the computer and forget about them until I need them. lol

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    1. I like the star feature on emails too Alli. Except when I have so many stars that I start to tune them out :) Key thing I've learned now is to follow up sooner.

      I'm glad you're joining me in the photo challenge! I keep accumulating photos too. It will be fun going through this together with other people!

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  3. I didn't discover this series until fairly recently but it was definitly a "ding!" moment. I've known for a while that I needed to improve how I handled email but I've been putting it off and putting it off. Thanks for this awesome challenge! I'm 2,000 emails lighter and counting!

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    1. I'm so glad the series helped you Sarah. Thanks for letting me know :) And wow! 2000 emails is fantastic! Congrats and keep up the great work!

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I love hearing from my readers! This is a great place to ask questions, answer questions, and share your organizing tips. Thank you so much for commenting! I look forward to getting to know you better :)