What your inbox says about you

September 26, 2016



There are two kinds of people in this world –

  1. those who manage to have LESS THAN 20 unread emails at a time by implementing every Lifehacker tutorial on Gmail hacks

  2. and those who have A BILLION unread spam, mail-order bride ads and reply-all emails. 


While most of us struggle to achieve email nirvana, we can put aside a mere half an hour to cleaning out our inboxes. As September feels like the start of a new year, it also means our inboxes begin to fill up at a quickened pace, and therefore is a great time to devote some energy to purging.



However, it can seem like a daunting chore – something akin to
being tasked with disposing of all the expired (and rotting) items in your fridge.




Here are three easy tips  to help you gain control of your inbox.


1. Unsubscribe and Delete

This might be the most obvious tip. We all subscribe to marketing emails thinking we are going to get in on some special promotion. More often than not, I delete those emails right away without checking Sephora’s limited time offer.


I challenge you to IDENTIFY 5 MARKETING EMAIL SENDERS you could do without. Once the senders are identified and unsubscribed, sort your inbox for all emails from that sender and delete.


2. Filter

Both Outlook and Gmail offer filtering options to put incoming mail into folders based on various rules. Sorting can be done based on sender, email subject, attachments, and more. This is really helpful for receipts or notifications that you don’t want lost in your inbox by automatically filing them. It's also a great way for sorting newsletters from a sender that you’ll check…eventually.


3. Delete or Archive

For most students and young professionals, our personal inboxes are harbored by junk mail. Don’t be afraid to delete last semester’s emails from your professors or even emails from your last job.


If deleting emails is too risky for you, archiving them is always an option. In fact, it’s a great fallback measure in case of data mismanagement or a cyber attack. And although archiving emails to the computer might seem burdensome, it is an option as a last resort when running out of email storage.


For Gmail, archiving within the platform is easy and there’s a built in function for that. It’s a way of moving emails out of your inbox and storing it in your All Mail folder.


To backup your Gmail emails to your computer, there are multiple ways of doing so with varying degrees of difficulty and results:


Note: Thunderbird with ImportExportTools can also be used to export emails, but this might be less straightforward than Google Takeout.


If archiving for Gmail isn’t burdensome enough for you, the three Outlook products also offer varying methods on backing up emails. Outlook from MS Office Suite – as in the one on your desktop – can directly export emails, unlike Gmail. However, Office 365 (Outlook Web App or formerly, Hotmail or Windows Live) cannot backup emails alone. It needs to be used in conjunction with Outlook on desktop. Similarly, Outlook on desktop needs to be used, again, to import back your emails.



Email clean-up doesn’t have to be difficult and laborious. By unsubscribing, using email filtering, and deleting/archiving, you can gain control and slay the inbox monster for good.


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