How to Clean Out Your Email Inbox

By Jason Artman

If you use email for work, you may find that a cluttered inbox makes your email time less productive. With spam, mailing list postings and old messages in your inbox, it can be difficult to find an important message that you need to reply to. Reduce the number of unwanted messages that reach your inbox, and create a system of organization to sort old messages and temporarily move messages that you do not need to reply to immediately to clean out your inbox and reduce the amount of time needed to find messages.

Step 1

Identify junk mail to make your spam filter more accurate. Most email programs and services make this simple by providing a "Junk" or "Spam" button that you can click when reading an unwanted message.

Step 2

Create a folder to store messages that you do not want to respond to immediately. This folder becomes the "to-do list" for your email account, reducing the clutter in your inbox while providing quick access to the messages that you need to take action on.

Step 3

Create folders for messages from mailing lists, and create rules in your email software or account to send messages to those folders automatically. If you do not want to leave the mailing lists that you are subscribed to, but do not always want to read messages from these lists as soon as you receive them, this can reduce the clutter that they create in your inbox. Folders and rules also work well for organizing messages from specific people.

Step 4

Search your inbox for old messages that you have already read and replied to. Move these messages to an archive folder or delete them.

Step 5

Stay on top of inbox organization. Take action on an email as soon as you receive it, or move it to the appropriate folder to avoid repeating your inbox cleanup operation later.