Guest Blog Post: How to Clean Out Your Email In-Box

Recently we posted an article on our Career Services Center LinkedIn group on how to empty out your email in-box.  Fred Sahakian, a Walden doctoral student in Public Policy and Administration, commented that he does this on a regular basis.  I asked him to share his tips and he was open to our posting it on our blog.

Fred Sahakian suggested cleaning out your email in-box as follows:

So first, make this a project that needs to get done with a deadline. It can take weeks to get control of your inbox again, at least from my experience.

1. Go through your email and really delete what you don’t need, this is time consuming but well worth it at the end.

2. As you are cleaning up, start to notice the categories you might want to make for your emails. I have several including Dissertation, ImportantKeep, Read Later, Recipes, Receipts, etc.

3. As you delete, you can start putting things in your different categories. Each email program is different, so whatever you do, test out your program to make sure you can search through all your email later easily. Also, really consider unsubscribing from groups/newsletters that you don’t need.

4. Start to auto filter your email. I send my newsletters to a Newsletter folder, my forums (like LinkedIn and Facebook) to another folder. These keep my inbox super clean.

5. I used to keep email, just because I could, I now just delete it right away. I try not to use my email as a To Do List reminder, this can be tough to do, I use ToodleDo ( ) as at To Do List, there are free and paid versions.

6. Once you have “tamed” your inbox, it gets easier.

7. Now, this sort of feels like cheating, but, as email comes in, it should be from people and issues that require your immediate attention, you can filter everything else, maybe call the folder “Needs Reply Soon”. The idea is to focus on the present and most important. You “park” the other items so they don’t nag you or are on your mind. Just make sure to set aside time each day to get to these “Parked” emails.

After a while, it will get annoying when your inbox gets full, and you just spend the time to clean it up, but at least you’ve been sorting things already and deleting things you don’t need. It’s like cleaning off the coffee table in your house instead of having to clean the entire house!

Thanks to Fred for sharing his tips with us!

Written by Lisa Cook, Senior Career Services Director