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Hurrah! I'm Finally Clearing My GMail Inbox

by Jo Shaer, on September 30, 2013

I suspect that many of us wonder how to go about clearing a gmail inbox. It can be so daunting and stressful to open your inbox and see thousands of messages sitting in there.

And, more importantly, it is so easy to lose important emails in the mess. My own gmail has a habit of adding new emails according to the time at which they were sent rather than received. This means that, if there was any delay in receiving them, they don't arrive in my inbox above messages that I have already seen. No, they may be slotted in further down page one or even on page two where I will never return.

I had to try to sort this out so I was very excited to attend a webinar run by Steve Dotto about attaining a Zero Inbox.

I talked about it here. So the first thing I did was archive all messages prior to six weeks ago.

I then activated the Category tabs so that my inbox was divided into Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums - as well as Primary.

Go to the cog setting, then select Settings. From there, select Inbox from the navigation bar and check the box for the individual categories.

This cut my inbox by a few hundred more. You get notified each time there is a new entry in each of these tabs so you can go and check how important it is. But it takes all the social media notifications and newsletters out of your main inbox. This allows you to be able to see your important messages more easily.

I could go through and archive or delete anything that I did not need to have right in front of me.

I then applied this process to what was left in my inbox.

I starred anything that needed further action and archived it into the Starred inbox. Anything else, I replied to and archived. Or deleted.

Then I went into the Starred inbox and started to work my way down the 50 emails that related to ongoing work.

Steve also recommended using Boomerang. This tool allows you to bring an email back into your inbox if it doesn't get a response within a certain time frame or to remind you that it needs action at a certain point in the future.

My inbox this morning contained only the seven new messages that required my attention - none of the other clutter and distraction.

One proviso - make sure you go back into the filter that you set up to move emails before a certain date into archive! Otherwise, you will find that new emails are automatically archived before you have a chance to read them. Not sure whether gmail have changed a setting somewhere as that did not happen the last time I used the archive filter.

Steve Dotto is running a new course about organising your working day, I think that will definitely be worth checking out.


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