Every year we make resolutions around this time. Always something to make our lives better: go to the gym more, eat less chocolate, stop drunk texting that ex from three years ago... But what if there was something often overlooked that would improve your life drastically and it was easily attainable?
There is: this year, take control of your email inbox.
It's the secret shame of many — hundreds, if not thousands of backed up emails, just sitting there in that red bubble. Always taunting, always shaming.
But don't fear! No inbox is too buried to overhaul. All it takes is an initial day of sorting and cleaning, and then a change of habit to keep it organized.
1. Clean it out
Set aside an hour or two to sit down and clean out your inbox. Chances are that the majority of that unread number is spam that you ignored instead of deleting. Start at the front and work your way back. Flag all spam and delete unimportant emails from your life. If you're on an email list for something you don't care about or don't read, unsubscribe yourself. Most, if not all, newsletters and coupon emails have an "unsubscribe" option at the bottom.
2. Use folders
If you've ever bought tickets online, you know the fear that you'll lose them to the abyss of your inbox. Sure, there's a search feature, but when you're panicking the night of, will you remember that? Make folders for anything you'll need later: textbook or rental receipts, concert tickets, insurance card information... whatever is most useful for you.
3. Use multiple emails
If you want all the coupons your account can hold but don't want to see them all the time, make a secondary email and sign up for all those emails there. Then, when you want a discount while shopping, check in there to see what deals you can get. Similarly, keep your school or work life separate from your personal email to make finding things and organizing things easier (Not to mention, your professor really doesn't want to hear from your Hotmail account).
4. Stay on top of it
Once you've cleaned it out, the hard part is over. Now you need to stay strong. There are two schools of thought on how to handle this: immediately handle an email every time you receive one, or schedule 10 minutes each day to sit down and go through your mail for the day. By being proactive about having an empty unread section, you avoid being caught in the same spot you started by surprise.
Now, go forth and organize!