Email Sanity - 10 Ways Organized and Productive People Keep Their Inbox Clear

Posted: October 14th, 2020

10 Ways Organized and Productive People Keep Their Email Inbox Clear

Written by Jo Garcia | November 29, 2016

        Does your email inbox seem like it’s perpetually over-flowing?   Like there’s a never-ending waterfall of emails that are shooting into your inbox?  Opening, reading, and managing your emails can often be a time-hogging and anxiety-ridden task, feeling as if we can never get away from our email inbox. Heck, nowadays, we’re even walking around with our emails in our pockets in the way of smartphones.

Here are a few ideas that can help keep your email inbox organized so that you can have peace of mind.

1.  Set up three different email accounts. At all times, you should have at least three separate email accounts:

Business Only – Preserve one email account dedicated solely for work. Having an email address that is exclusively for business will help increase your work productivity as well

Keeping it Personal - Keep a personal email address where your friends and family can reach you.  It’s critical to keep your business life and personal life separate, otherwise you’ll find yourself working at all hours of the day and night

Bulk – If your work or personal email accounts often seem flooded with junk email, it’s probably because they are. Although most business and personal email providers generally have a tab for junk emails, setting up a separate email account for just that is a step-up to keeping your email sanity. It’s a good idea to dedicate one email account/address that you give to organizations who you know will be sending you bulk newsletters and emails that aren’t necessarily time-sensitive or imperative for you to read

          You now have a work email account that contains only message that you need to read through and manage while you are working.  Your personal emails can be read while you’re at home, or away from work.  During your extra personal-time, you can read through the interesting emails you find when you’re thumbing through your bulk account.

2.  Keep business - Business. Remove your business email address from your personal computer and/or personal cell-phone. You’ll likely find that you’ll be able to better separate work from your personal life this way.   Likewise, remove your personal email account and your bulk email account from your work computer and/or work cell-phone.  This will help you focus on your work and be more work-productive.

3.  Designate email time. Just like you would schedule a time for when you’re going to lunch or when you’ll be attending a meeting, also schedule a time that you will commit to managing your email.  This is a vital step for email-survival.   I generally suggest to carve out the following times:

  • Business: At least three times a day:  (1) As soon as you get into work, carve out 15-minutes to 45-minutes (2) Before you go to lunch spend a designated amount of time to check and respond to your emails (3) About an hour before you leave work, carve out 15-minutes to 45-minutes to finalize your work day
  • Personal: Again, at least three times a day:  (1)  As soon as you wake up in the mornings (2) When you get home from work  (3) An hour before you go to bed

        I am awful about sleeping with my cell phone on my night stand, staying up at all hours of the night checking my emails and messaging.  I have learned to charge my cell phone at night in a different room; this has tremendously helped me get a good night’s rest.  I also do not suggest reading your personal emails during lunch breaks or during your work day.  This can often be distracting at work and it can divert your mind away from your job duties.

4.  Inbox-Zero is doable. Your goal every day is to reach Inbox-Zero, both with your work accounts and your personal accounts.  In the beginning, to achieve Inbox-Zero you will have to designate an extra amount of time to manage your email accounts.  I don’t recommend declaring email bankruptcy where you initially delete all your old emails.  I do however, recommend at least throwing those emails into a file folder for you to attend to later.

5.  Follow the NIKE rule. What is Nike’s slogan?  Just Do It.  Determine that you will do something with each email you open: reply/forward, file it, or delete it.  Don’t just leave it hanging out in your inbox.

6.  Keep a great filing system. Whether it’s your business email account or your personal email account, you should have an organized filing system of where you store the emails that you want to work on later or need to keep.  Some ideas of email file folders include:

Work Account

  • Accounts Payable
    • Name of Payables Account
  • Accounts Receivables
    • Name of Receivables Account
  • Advertising/Marketing
    • Name of Marketing Project
    • Name of Advertising Project
  • Current Projects
    • Name of Project with Due Date
  • Completed Projects
    • Name of Project with Completion Date
  • Licensing
  • Payroll
  • To Do
  • To File

Personal Account

  • Bills
    • Cable
    • Loans
    • Utilities
  • Family
    • Name of family member #1
    • Name of family member #2
  • Pets
    • Name of pet #1
    • Name of Pet #2
  • To Do
  • To File
  • Vacation

 7.  Decide to keep useful emails. Determine whether to subscribe a newsletter or email to your bulk account.  A good rule of thumb is whether the email sender provides useful content that can make your life better. This blog is an example. VolkLaw blog readers are lifelong learners. They can read these emails and personally benefit from them. This post and our blog article, “Dealing with Difficult People at Work” ( are a few of our favorite examples. We think they can make life better for our readers. That is our mission with these posts. We also are more than happy to receive suggestions for blog posts on subjects like this. 

8.  Social Media Notifications. Each social media platform offers an ability in its settings to determine how many notifications you want to receive via email or text messaging.   It’s a good idea to first decide what kind of filters you want to add to each social media account.   After you’ve decided, you can control which email account you want those notifications to go to.  Everyone will be different:  some people will want to have their social media notifications sent to their personal accounts, and some are okay with notifications going to their bulk accounts.

9.  Establish Auto Filters. Some email providers will offer you the ability to set-up automatic filters for your incoming emails.  For example, I subscribe to a daily devotional that gets delivered to my personal Gmail account since I only check my bulk account weekly.  To cut down on the number of emails that go to my inbox, I’ve created a filter so that all devotional emails skip my inbox and go straight into a digital file folder in my personal email account titled, Daily Devotionals.  

10.  Auto Responders are a MUST. Are you going on vacation?  Will you be away for a few days on a work convention?  Just taking a sick day or two out of the office?   Whichever the case, before you leave for an extended period of time, go ahead in your settings tab of your email and set up an auto responder notifying each person who sends you an email that you are out of the office or unavailable until a designated time.  This is also shows courtesy that no one is wondering why you haven’t replied to them.

Even if you just start with one of these tips and practice it daily for a week then move onto the next tip the following week, you should be well on your way to email sanity.

The matters discussed here are general in nature and are not to be relied upon as legal advice. Every specific legal matter requires specific legal attention. 

The law is constantly changing and matters discussed today may not be the same tomorrow. Legal matters are also subject to different interpretations by attorneys, judges, jurors and scholars. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created as a result of matters discussed here. You should consult counsel of your choice if you have any dealings in these areas of the law. Volk Law Offices, P.A. and its attorneys make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the matters addressed.