The fast-changing era of technology has changed everything about our lifestyles: the way we work, the way we shop and the way we wake up are all evolving at a rapid pace. With this evolution often comes the unintended side effect of clutter, and managing this confusion of digital files can be easier said than done.
Not too long ago, waking up meant getting out of bed, having breakfast and getting ready for the day ahead. Today, waking up means checking a smartphone, for about 50% of users.
A recent study found that, unsurprisingly, the number of email users in the U.S. is expected to grow to 244.5 million by the end of 2017 and to 254.7 million by 2020.
With the number of emails being sent and received every day, it is all too common for your inbox to be swarmed unwanted emails alongside the necessary ones.
This clutter can be detrimental to your productivity. In a recent study conducted by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, it was proven that a messy workplace creates competition for our attention, creating a visual “noise.”
Furthermore, the more the clutter there is in our minds, the less space there is left for filtering information, switching between tasks and maintaining focus. This leads to confusion and reduced concentration.
The same goes for our email. And, believe it or not, an unorganized email inbox can cause just as much confusion as any other kind of cluttered environment. Below are some tips for managing your inbox and improving your productivity.
Keep it Clean
A large amount of email exchange encompasses junk emails: those that are unwanted or divert our attention from the emails that matter to us.
As of September 2017, spam messages accounted for 59.56% of all global email traffic.
For this reason, the first step to organizing your email inbox is completely removing this junk mail — emails you haven’t read and you won’t ever read (you probably know which ones they are).
You can begin this process by unsubscribing to unwanted newsletters and other emails. And instead of ignoring them, take the time to delete those you have already received.
It’s best to delete these emails and unsubscribe from them as soon as possible; the longer you wait, the further cluttered your inbox will become.
Filter it Out
It also may be worth your time to use extra spam filters. About 77% of consumers prefer adding filters to blocking emails entirely.
The upside of filters is that they save you from skimming through loads of emails in one folder and losing focus. Each email is scanned, filtered and directed to an allotted separate folder — you won’t even be bothered with notifications from these emails.
Furthermore, filters don’t allow the spam emails get to you in the first place. You decide which emails are labelled or deleted as they get sent to you — without having to scroll through them endlessly.
You may be keeping separate accounts in order to have one for work and another for family and friends. Or maybe you chose a great account name in your youth and can’t bear the thought of parting with it.
However, keeping multiple accounts also means keeping multiple places where junk email collects every day.
There is a solution to this — keep one active email account. If you don’t want to completely get rid of your other accounts, you can update your settings so that all of your important emails are forwarded to your main account.
This means that while you don’t need to part with all your email accounts, at least you can defer the important emails to one primary inbox.
Today, the need for scheduling tasks or devising to-do lists is greater than ever.
Even in our managing of daily tasks, at times we utilize precious email space for handling matters doable on other platforms, such as reminders for making calls, initiating projects or completing follow-ups.
A better idea is to use calendars for these reminders. On a calendar application, you can select the date and set up timing for the scheduling of events.
A recent survey revealed that 84% of people considered calendars either “important” or “very important” in their daily lives.
Another great way to accomplish this would be to use a task-tracking tool, an application that will monitor your tasks along with reminders.
Use Online File Sharing
We all share files: pictures, documents and memos, just to name a few.
According to recent studies, 2.6% files are publicly accessible on the Internet, while 28.3% files are shared with individuals or business partners.
More often than not, these files can be of significant sizes and waste a great deal of email space.
Try using online platforms such as Google Drive or Dropbox can save large amounts of email clutter while also keeping your files more secure.
Online task management tools, which help store documents and achieve milestones without using physical memory, can also be useful in this task.
Having a clean, decluttered email inbox is a wonderful and productive feeling, but keeping it this way requires checking your email each day.
However, we often check our emails many times in a single day, expending large amounts of time and energy.
Instead, schedule a few times each day to check your inbox. According to research, it’s best to check your email no more than three times each day.
We would love to hear your ideas on cleaning out your inbox — enlighten us with your tips and tricks in the comments section below. Happy emailing!