For many the issue of inbox overwhelm isn’t simply about being in an email heavy job, it’s very much about the deluge of incoming information. Newsletters, sales notices, marketing emails, jokes, social media updates, and updates from a variety of blogs and websites can make up a large portion of email piling up in your inbox daily. While these communications may often be necessary, desired even, they can all just get to be too much, when left unchecked. They will utterly take-over your inbox and completely overwhelm even the most organized and efficient among us. There are however, some simple steps we can take to combat this insidious dribble of incoming information. Simple yes; easy no. We humans are wired to seek information. We want to stay informed, in the loop, knowledgeable. We hate not keeping up with everything that’s going on around us. We might even go so far as to say that our insatiable curiosity has turned into an information addiction. Though many of us are still in denial about that…

Strategies to Stem the Flood and Clear Emails

  1. Cool it with the newsletters. Really. Only subscribe to newsletters if the information is truly valuable to you in some way. Useful, informative or entertaining is fine, but if you find yourself frequently skimming or deleting without even reading, it’s time to unsubscribe.
  2. Use an RSS reader. Instead of signing up for daily or weekly emails, subscribe to the site’s RSS feed (For example: Here’s Lifehack’s Feed) and use Google Reader or something similar to store and manage your information. Get it out of your inbox if you can!
  3. Be very selective when forwarding emails. Jokes, chain emails, video links, photos, and that sort of thing, but for the most part, it might be a better idea to post that kind of information on your Facebook wall. Everyone loves a cute pet or a good laugh; once in a while is fine, but not on a regular basis.
  4. Opt out of those sales alerts. If you need to buy something, you can search the internet for sales or discounts. If you don’t need it then you shouldn’t be wasting time getting alerts about it. It is a waste of your valuable time and inbox space and will probably save you money as well!
  5. Likewise, opt out of those marketing emails. Nearly every time you sign up on some website and give out your email, you are going to be placed on a mailing list. Unless you are waiting for some specific information from the website, uncheck that box during the sign-up process. If there wasn’t an option or you missed it, opt out or unsubscribe as soon as the marketing emails start showing up.
  6. Get it in digest format if possible. Instead of getting a notification every time someone posts on your LinkedInTwitter, or Facebook profile, opt for digest emails instead. Another option is to use an inbox filter to divert them to a separate folder, get text alerts, or turn off the notifications totally. You can always log in daily to look.

There are so many strategies we can use to organize email, weed out and trim down our email volume. With a little diligence, we can move a bit closer to an efficient, streamlined inbox that is a useful tool to share valuable information. Isn’t that what it’s supposed to be for anyway?

Featured photo credit:  Businessman with at signs flying from his hands via Shutterstock

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