Taming Your Gmail Inbox

The following post is from Michelle of Mommy Misadventures:

source: Michelle Mista

That’s a recent screenshot of my Gmail inbox. Shameful, I know. I’ve confessed before to being a digital packrat. And while I work hard to keep my file collecting habit under control, my email inbox tends to be a digital clutter hotspot for me. If I’m not careful, my inbox can get overrun very quickly.

Mind Your Storage Space

For my professional email address, I manage my own mailboxes through my professional domain, and I purposely keep my mailbox storage small. This forces me to evaluate every single piece of mail that comes through. I only keep mail on the server that I deem to be important.

Sadly, my personal email box is a whole different story. I use Google Gmail to handle my personal email. Back when the Gmail beta launched on April 1, 2004 it offered users and unprecedented 1 GB worth of space, many people thought it was an April Fool’s joke!

Thanks to advances in digital storage, Gmail now offers over 7 GB worth of space per mailbox for free users, while premium Google Apps users enjoy a whopping 25GB worth of storage. As Gmail loves to tout, with so much space, you don’t have to throw anything away.

You don’t have to. But you probably should.

Cleaning out Your Inbox

Cleaning out email can be a mind numbing tasks – honestly, it’s not one of my favorites. On Gmail, a quick way to clean it up on Gmail is to archive it by clicking “Select All” to select all the messages in your inbox and then clicking the “Archive” button. This moves all the email out of your inbox but still saves it on the server.

This solution is quick but is the equivalent of shoving everything into your closet when guests come over. Your inbox looks clean but the mess is still there. If you’ve got the time, cleaning out your inbox by going through each and every message and labeling it as needed is still the best option.

Dealing with Incoming

Once you’ve cleaned out your email inbox, keep it clear by creating a plan to deal with incoming mail. Reduce the amount of email that comes in is essential. Trim your social notifications and mailing list subscriptions to only the ones you know that you read. The less email that comes in, the less you will have to sort through later.

Make a decision immediately about what to do with each email that comes in. Read your email and either delete it immediately or label it and archive it for later. Gmail can recognize and alert you to email that it believes you will find important. Take the actively mark messages important so that Gmail can learn your patterns; this will help save you time in the long run. Additionally, you can always create filters which can immediately label each email as it comes in which can also save you time.

Do you have trouble keeping your email organized? What are some of your favorite email organizational hacks?

Michelle Mista is an IT professional, writer and blogger with a love for all kinds of technology. She writes about tech tips and trends for work at home professionals on her portfolio blog and muses about motherhood at Mommy Misadventures. She is on the constant quest to balance life, work and geekery.