The Ultimate Email Clean-up Guide: How to Reduce Your Inbox

The Ultimate Email Clean-up Guide: How to Reduce Your Inbox

Emails put the net in "internet." Roughly 3.8 billion email accounts were in existence in 2019. That's one for every two people on the planet.

There is no better way to connect with someone than through an email. Yet that also makes email inboxes unwieldy. If you want to harness the power of emails, you have to learn some email clean-up strategies.

What should you remove from your inbox first? How long should you keep emails? How can you know which ones to keep?

Answer these questions and you can become a master on how to clear email. Here is your comprehensive guide.

Know the Reasons for a Clean Email Account

Many people don't delete their emails because they don't see any reason to. They may have plenty of space in their accounts and they don't think there is a problem with thousands of emails.

But there are good reasons why you should clear out your emails. If you have too many of them, your device will slow down. Some platforms do not let you see new emails until you have deleted old ones.

Email clutter can make a person feel more disorganized and stressed. It can be hard to find important emails as there are so many unimportant ones.

Bearing these reasons in mind will help you learn how to clean up email accounts. You should focus on the positives, even if cleaning up an email account can be frustrating.

Start With the Junk

The junk should be at the top of your clean email list. Spam and phishing emails should be removed from your inbox right away. You can leave emails in your spam folder, and your account will automatically delete them.

But you can consider several other kinds of emails to be junk as well. Social media notifications and reminders for past events should go away. Anything that is unnecessary to you now or in the future can get discarded.

Discard the emails right away. Take note of the number of emails in your folder before and after your deletions. Discarding junk and tracking your numbers will give you a sense of accomplishment as you continue to clear email accounts.

Skim Through Your Folders

Your account may have several different folders. Your primary folder may contain all of your emails or the ones that don't fall into any particular category. This folder can be large, so you should try to focus on the other ones first.

Gmail accounts have a Social folder that logs notifications from social media accounts. You can remove most of these emails, especially less recent ones.

Gmail also provides a Promotions folder that contains sales and newsletters. You can delete most of these emails, though you may want to save emails about discounts you may use.

Starred emails are emails you have marked as significant in the past. But your account may have a separate folder that marks emails that the system you are using regards as significant.

You should look through this folder and see if the system is right. You should remove any emails that are not important so your system will know not to send you similar ones in the future.

You can create your own folders to organize different emails. If you don't use a folder anymore, delete it. This will free up room in your account for more useful folders.

Think About a Timeline

You may have hundreds of emails from years ago. Most of them are not useful to you anymore, but a few of them may be. To make the process of sorting through them easier, you should ask yourself a few questions.

Think about what kinds of emails you need from five or more years ago. Emails from this time period may help you prove your employment history or track your personal growth in something. Remove any emails that don't have a clear purpose for you.

Then think about the kinds of emails you need from three to five years ago. You may want to keep messages from friends and relatives for nostalgia. You can otherwise delete everything else.

You can finally examine the emails from one to three years ago. You may have a long-term project you are working on that requires keeping a few emails from this period. But if they don't help you at work and don't cheer you up, you should not keep them.

If you want a rule of thumb, ask yourself when the last time was that you needed an email from five years ago. If you can't come up with a situation where you need to keep one, reduce the number of years by one. Keep going until you find a time range that is useful to you, then delete all emails from outside that time range.

Use Keywords

Selecting keywords will help you find easier targets for emails to remove. When you search for keywords, emails from different folders will pop up so you don't have to click on each folder.

Type in one or two words at a time. "Sale" and "reminder" tend to be good ones. You should delete all emails that remind you of things that occurred more than six months ago.

"Download link" or "click here" can bring up spam and phishing emails. You should delete these emails, but you should be careful not to click on the links they contain. Check the emails off in your search results and then delete them.

Mark Important Emails

Figuring out what to keep is just as important as what to get rid of. When you have found some emails you want to keep for yourself, you should figure out a way to organize them.

You can give the emails stars or flag them as being important. You can also create a folder and place the emails into it. Give the folder a clear name like "emails from Sarah" so you know the purpose of the folder.

The importance of your emails will change over time. Take a look at the ones you have kept every few months or so. Delete the ones that have served their purpose.

Unsubscribe From Unimportant Services

Newsletters can be useful tools to let you know what a company or person is up to. Yet they can be excessive, especially when you are signed up for one for no apparent reason.

You should delete newsletters out of your inbox. But you should also click on the email and figure out how to unsubscribe from the newsletter. Most letters contain a unsubscribe button at the bottom of them.

Try to prevent signing up for newsletters in the future. Before you contact a website or buy something from a company, check to see if they are signing you up for a letter. You may have to unclick a box so they don't do so.

Block Spam and Scam Emails

You should follow a guide on how to eliminate spam emails. Email services have algorithms to recognize and remove spam, but these algorithms do not always work. It is possible to mistake a legitimate email as being spam or vice versa.

Qualities of spam emails include typos and inconsistencies in email addresses. Someone impersonating Netflix may send you an email from ""

Phishing emails may try to trick you into offering your personal information. You should learn how to recognize phishing scams by looking at their greetings and visuals. Many phishing emails will use generic greetings like "Hi Dear."

If an account sends you several spam emails, block their email addresses. Do not click on the emails themselves, as the sender may receive a notification that your account is active.

Keep Practicing Email Management

Learning how to clear email will help you keep things organized. But you have to continue to work on your organizational skills.

Follow good email management tips. Find a time of day when you can check your emails and delete unnecessary ones. If you think this might take too long, set a timer and stop when the timer runs out.

Create a blacklist that blocks email accounts you don't want contact with. But you should create a whitelist that lets certain emails get through.

Start Your Email Clean-up

An email clean-up does not have to be difficult. You can start removing useless and junk emails right away.

You can then look at promotional emails and delete them. Social media notifications are unnecessary once you've visited your accounts.

From there, you can remove old emails and use keywords to sort through the rest. You should group your important emails from your unimportant ones. Take proactive steps to minimize future emails, including by unsubscribing from letters.

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