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Keep Your Email from Overwhelming You
10 tips you haven’t heard that will help you take control
Email is one of the primary means of communication in today’s digital age, and it’s almost ridiculously easy for your email to get cluttered before you even realize it. And without commutes, office chat, happy hours, coffee dates, movie nights at the actual movies, and a million other things that took up our time before the pandemic, now is a great time to finally tackle your inbox.
In our post “How to Declutter in the Digital Age,” Lauren Zalaznick talks about how the convenience that tech brings us also means it’s much harder for us to sift through what’s unnecessary. With new updates surfacing all the time, who has time to click through and sort everything out? If this sounds like you, read on for our top 10 tips on how to take control of your email.
1. Decide what kind of emails are important.
The first step is best done away from your computer: sit down and take note of whose emails you need to stay connected to. If you go through all your email threads in order to see what’s worth keeping, you might end up being in front of your computer for hours! Instead, make general lists of who you want to stay in contact with, from family and friends to business partners.
2. Configure your inbox.
After you’ve completed the first step, the next is to prioritize your inbox accordingly. Gmail’s tab feature instantly divides your email account into multiple tabs, thus organizing your emails by primary contacts, promotions, and more right before your eyes. Each tab puts all unread emails at the top, so you can go to the tab you want to see first and save the others for later. For those who don’t use Gmail, providers like Apple’s Mail client and Microsoft Outlook have the option of sorting your inbox according to folders and tags for easy tracking.
3. Put some cybersecurity measures in place.
Your email presents one of the biggest cybersecurity risks, with phishing links continually catching victims. In fact, Maryville University’s findings on the growing need for cybersecurity professionals speaks to the equally rapid growth of attacks. One wrong click can jeopardize your entire business, which in itself leads to the overwhelming worry of your digital accounts being compromised. Even taking simple precautionary measures like updating your antivirus software and changing your password every three months can go a long way in protecting your data.
4. Encrypt your email.
In line with the above point, consider email encryption as a necessary step in securely sifting through your email. Tech Advisor highlights that more email providers are taking encryption seriously in light of the widespread digital attacks that users face. Email providers like ProtonMail and Hushmail come with built-in encryption, but bigger service providers like Yahoo and Outlook also allow you to change settings to strengthen your encryption.
5. Check your storage.
If your email is acting wonky, chances are it’s because your storage is getting full. TidBITS’ guide to dealing with storage space explains that new emails might just get flat-out rejected if the system detects that you don’t have enough space, which means decluttering could make all the difference between getting that important email and missing out on a great opportunity.
6. Consider plug-ins and extensions.
Plug-ins and extensions can be super helpful tools when it comes to streamlining your inbox and minimizing anxiety. There are plug-ins that let you schedule emails ahead of time to be sent later, and others that check grammar and spelling to help you avoid embarrassing typos. As with all things digital, it’s best to rely on a few key tools rather than adding every shiny new plug-in so that you don’t end up overwhelmed. Your browser’s website should have a repository of extensions you can download: Boomerang is a helpful Gmail extension that allows you to schedule messages to be sent at a later date. Grammarly is another extension that works across different browsers and corrects your spelling in real-time.
7. Try other email inboxes.
TechRadar’s guide to alternative email clients shows that there’s more to life than just your default email application. If you don’t like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, storage-friendly GMX Mail or organization powerhouse Zoho Mail are good alternatives. After all, what you may actually need is just a change of scenery! Picking the right email inbox with an interface that makes sense to you can instantly make you feel better, since you won’t have to be dealing with clunky and unhelpful designs.
8. Unsubscribe from newsletters.
When it comes to cleaning up your email, unsubscribing from newsletters is often the first step that comes to mind. That said, a lot of subscription management tools might actually be selling off your data without you knowing it. According to The Verge, manually unsubscribing is still your best bet to ensure that you’re safe. Think of it as digital spring cleaning: every week, go through your inbox and find subscription lists FROM WHICH you can manually unsubscribe. This can actually be therapeutic — just put on some comfy headphones and play your favorite tunes!
9. Set strict times for checking emails.
Your email notifications may be stressing you out more than they should. While our phones and gadgets always want us to be plugged in, setting boundaries is crucial in order to keep us from getting overwhelmed. You can either decide to read all your emails in one go or set specific times throughout the day when you’ll log on. For example, iPhones have the option of letting users set how much screen time to devote to a certain app: once that screen time is met, a notification pops up and the app is blocked.
10. Decide when to delegate.
Delegating is an important business strategy, and it works for emails too. If you have business partners or team members you work with, revisit step one and make a note of which emails can be delegated to someone else. That way, you won’t be tempted to address each and every new email that comes in — immediately forwarding it to a team member can make you feel productive while also clearing up your inbox.
As it turns out, decluttering your email is important for a whole host of reasons. Not only does it make you more productive and less stressed, it can also help secure your entire system. Since we can’t live without email, these tips should help you manage the digital beast before it gets too unwieldy.