Dealing with excessive email
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It’s been years and I just couldn’t take it anymore. Email would come in so fast and furious to my inbox that I just couldn’t deal with it all. Important things would get pushed to the bottom. Things would get overlooked. My inbox was just creating too much stress. So I made it my mission to get a grip on my email. Finally controlling it instead of it controlling me.
Managing multiple email accounts
I have an email for work, a personal email, one for our household and I also have a few more for clients. Most of the email accounts are Gmail or Google Workspace. This means I have to log into many different email accounts multiple times a day to check for new messages.
Almost 4 years ago I discovered Shift, a chrome based desktop app for streamlining and collaborating across accounts and workflows. It’s like having multiple tabs open but with better organization, notifications and unified search. Having multiple email accounts, this tool was a no brainer and I fell in love right away. You can see it in action here.
Clear your inbox
The next problem was a jam-packed inbox. I would constantly try and delete or archive email to stay on top of it, but I would always inevitably fall behind. I was intentionally leaving things in my inbox so I wouldn’t forget them, but as new stuff came in they kept getting pushed further down and once they are past page one, forget it.
I decided I had to start fresh. I selected anything and everything in my inbox and archived it. The nice thing about archiving is it’s still searchable, it’s just not in your face. In fact with Gmail, archive is actually just removing the inbox label. Clearing the inbox felt great! Unfortunately email continued to flow back in.
Organize with labels or folders
Soon after I noticed my inbox filling up again. However, now I was noticing there was a lot of things that didn’t need my immediate attention, were just information or where unimportant all together.
This is when I began creating filters. I looked for patterns. Maybe something in the subject that could be a trigger to put a specific label on it. Some emails that came from a specific domain could be given their own label. I got crazy and started having things skip the inbox, some I had marked read, some I even just had deleted. The more I could keep from clogging my inbox, the better.
Are you really reading them? Unsubscribe!
All these years, All these signups. As well intentioned as they were, there were so many. I found I wasn’t even reading 90% of them. That’s when I made the tough decision… unsubscribe.
If you signed up for it, it’s required to have an unsubscribe button on it. Use it. If you’re not actually reading them you might as well. I would find some that I would check occasionally and wanted to keep so I would look for options to slow down how many I was getting and I even unsubscribed to a bunch and re-subscribed using my personal email. Don’t forget to create those filters on those other accounts as well.
Build a new routine
Things were going great. I now have a clean and organized email account with a lot less email coming in daily. This was awesome, but I was still leaving things in my inbox like a to-do list. Everything had different response times or I was waiting on different things so I was still leaving a lot in my inbox and always feeling unaccomplished.
This is when I realized I had to do something different. Now everyday I start by cleaning my inbox. Items that need attention get moved to another system. Is it support? Create a ticket. Is it project related? Create a task. Does it have a due date? Put it on the calendar. The goal is to run lean and clean and have a near empty inbox at the close of business for the day.
I’m one of those people who’s always trying all the new software I see. I have to say, of all the one’s I’ve tried, Shift is my favorite. It’s definitely the tool that got me thinking about email in a whole different way and I’m grateful for it. So if you have multiple email accounts, Try Shift today.