Get Organized: 5 Steps to A “Clean” Inbox

Getting Organized: 5 Steps to A "Clean" InboxI established my Yahoo email account many years ago. In those days, email was something to look forward to, usually a nice correspondence with a friend or family member. Boy have times changed. My account now receives upwards of 500 spam messages weekly, and most of the messages I receive are certainly not from family and friends, which is what used to make reading email fun. Can we get back to the way it used to be? Probably not, but we can “get to the good stuff” quicker with a few tweaks to the system.

Get Organized: 5 Steps to A “Clean” Inbox

Create and use a “junk mail” account. That one time I used my email address for something and didn’t UN-tick the box next to “receive special offers” was the point of no return. My Yahoo account has become my catch-all “junk mail” account. I give out this email address to every Tom or Harry website that requires me to enter an email address to use their site. This way if I am signed up for a “member newsletter,” or if the company wants to send me their “Internet-only special deals,” they all go to one place. I then created a pristine special email address that only the important people in my life know, and I don’t give it out to anyone else. In this way, I have a personal email address that is junk-free. Ahhhh.

Use disposable addresses. If you need a quick email address and you don’t care about getting a response or keeping a record of correspondence, Mailinator (www.mailinator.com) is your answer. It’s a public mail service, meaning there is zero privacy, but who cares about that when we’re talking about spam, right? Simply create any email name you like and attach it to @mailinator.com. Any mail sent to that email address is publically-accessible on Mailinator’s site, so you can view it if you like and forward it to your “real” email address if it turns out to be important. No passwords or sign-up required. A few things to note: all mail is deleted within a few hours so if there’s a chance you’ll need to view a reply message, you probably shouldn’t use Malinator. Also, all attachments are removed from incoming mail. Good for stripping viruses, but lousy if someone sends you something important.

Use automatic filtering and sort incoming messages quickly. Most email programs have options for automated message filtering. Sort specific senders into special folders you set up, or color code them within your inbox so important threads grab your attention faster. Try sorting important contacts into an “Act Now” folder and have subscriptions or coupon offers sort to category folders you create like “shopping,” “school news,” or “recipes.” I’ve got mine set up to automatically move mail from certain senders right to the trash. The options are really endless. Thunderbird (www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/) is a free email application that can help you sort out several email mailboxes in one easy location. Have Thunderbird sync all your email addresses so that all your mail is in one place, and then use its advanced sorting features to consolidate and organize all your messages so you only have to login once to see everything, or at least everything you want to see.

Cut down on clutter. Once you’ve reviewed an email, make sure that you either sort it into a folder or delete it. If you don’t use your Inbox as your storage area it won’t get so crowded and overwhelming. Don’t forget to clean out your folders periodically too. Use the view options to sort messages by date and/or sender to purge quickly. You probably don’t need to save that email you got from your sister in 2009, or the purchase confirm for the toaster that you tossed out last spring. Turn off social media notifications. Sign up for Facebook and Twitter and suddenly you’re being spammed by them too. Yikes! Shut it down by going into the settings for each one and turning off email notifications for everything you possibly can. You really don’t need to be notified within the application that you’ve got a new message and then receive an email that you’ve got a new message. Wow, that’s a lot of notification!

About The Author: Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and laptop repair service for consumers and businesses.