Easy Summer Tip: How To Simplify Your Email Inbox

I am not a naturally organized person. I have had to learn to create systems and process for both business and my personal life to at least somewhat stay on track.

There’s a great quote about clutter that resonates with me:

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. Its old ideas, toxic relationships, and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.” - Eleanor Brownn

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Whether it’s digital, physical, or mental clutter - having less of all of it and learning to let go helps keep things simple and easy.

One of the things I tend to do is over-organize instead of getting rid of.

You might be an over-organizer if you buy lots of containers and boxes to hide and organize your stuff, instead of decluttering and simplifying.

My email inbox was one of the main ways I over-organized and it was a disaster. At one point I had somewhere around 50 labels and sub-labels to file away emails just in case.

A couple months ago I took action to turn it all around and it’s been amazing.

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STEP 1: CREATE 6 LABELS

Although at the time I thought I was being super organized by having a complex system of label and sub-labels, the system quickly got out of control and unmanageable. 

For example, if I bought a course, I might label the confirmation email with “receipts”, “courses”, “to-do”, and “login info”. 

I had a label for everything that could possibly apply to any email I might receiving - the problem was that I began to forget what labels I had and what I had used to label previous similar emails. 

It was crazy.

I began my de-cluttering by going into my Gmail settings and creating 6 labels to use for the entirety of my system.

  1. Accounting

  2. Chace Digital LLC

  3. Clients

  4. Education|Courses

  5. Kudos File

  6. Tools|Sites

Accounting: Anything that has to do with any financials for my business.

Chace Digital LLC: Anything that has to do with the admin of my business (i.e. business registration or domain info). I also use this label for any emails relating to my products and courses (the ones I sell).

Clients: Pretty self-explanatory! Any emails relating to client work.

Education|Courses: Any information relating to courses I’ve bought and/or self-education.

Kudos File: This has been a handy one! When I request a testimonial from a client or student, I always do it via email so that I can easily label and grab it later when I need it.

Tools|Sites: Anything to do with apps/software/tools that I use for my business.

That’s it! NO OTHER LABELS.

STEP 2: GET RID OF ANY OTHER LABELS

I then went into my extensive list of label in my Gmail settings and rampantly starting moving and deleting.

As soon as I either 1) re-labeled or 2) deleted/archived from an old label, I’d then delete the old label.

I’m not gonna lie - this took awhile.

Probably because I had saved EVERYTHING and I wanted to be thorough with simplifying.

I’d estimate it took me about 6-8 hours over the course of a couple weeks (remember, I had at least 50 labels to go through).

STEP 3: MAINTAIN

Now that I have 6 labels - and only 6 labels - for any email that comes into my inbox, the system is SO EASY TO MAINTAIN!

At the end of the day (or sometimes once a week during my planning sesh on Sundays) I go through and quickly label, then archive or delete all emails.

If an item doesn’t fall into a label category but I think I might need to save it, I’ll archive it (the beauty of searching in Gmail).

If I had an email that was hanging around in my inbox that didn’t fit a label but I didn’t want to get rid of (usually it’s something I want to read or check out), that I give it a week or so. If I still haven’t gotten to it, I delete it - it wasn’t that important!

Getting this all straightened out going into summer is going to take a load off your mind, let me tell ya.

Not having digital clutter (at least in your inbox) hanging over your head as you’re navigating many, many other things during the summer is huge.

I’d love to know if YOU have a simple system for your email inbox!

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Hey hey, I'm Cara - Pinterest marketing evangelist and lover of all things Squarespace website design. I team up with online entrepreneurs to get tons of website traffic into sales funnels (marketing speak for getting eyeballs on your website and turning them into customers).

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