E-Mail Got You Stressed? This De-Cluttering Tip Helps You Breathe

e-mail clutter stress

Don’t let e-mail overwhelm you…

E-mail is a major source of stress of lots of folks these days. Indeed, a cluttered inbox is often cited as a major issue for readers of The Time Finder.

Are you one of them?

Time management is a skill that is as applicable to your e-mail habits as it is to your calendar.  And when you feel like you’re drowning in e-mail, your energy and focus are being sapped unnecessarily.

So, what can you do about your e-mail stress?

Rules Rule

Most e-mail software allows you to set up ‘rules’ for managing your mail. This is a powerful tool, especially if you receive frequent, repetitive e-mails (i.e. with the same subject line or from the same senders)  that you want to keep, but don’t necessarily need to see. An example would be confirmations of new subscribers to your mailing list.

Once you get your rules set up, designated sets of e-mails can be immediately forwarded to particular storage folders, forwarded to a co-worker, etc. This is a big time-saver.

More on Managing E-Mail

While many people set up their e-mail storage folders by subject,  you might also consider setting them up with time frames in mind.

For example, you could create a folder for things due today, things due tomorrow, things to review next week, etc.   A combination of these two methods might work well, depending on your needs.

Different Accounts?

Another very useful suggestion is having a separate account for your personal e-mails. This is an important boundary to maintain, and it becomes especially important if you’re working at home. The distractions offered by personal e-mails can pull you off task frequently. And remember, every time you are pulled off task, it also takes time to refocus.

So, have you used rules, or some of these other ideas, to manage your inbox?

In just the little bit of exploring that we did, we found rules to be a very helpful tool – and one that most e-mail programs include.  And working with different categories for our storage folders is opening up all sorts of possibilities.

Don’t forget, too, that most e-mail software includes a search function. Between your efforts to organize things up-front, and the ability to search through all of your folders, I hope you’ll find that you can de-clutter, de-stress, and always find what you’re looking for.

How do you keep on top of your inbox?  I’d love to hear.

And here’s more help for you…

What if you could find another hour every day? You can.

For more Time Finding resources, you are invited to sign up and download The Finding Time Boundary Template.

It’s part of the complimentary Finding Time Success Kit, and when you sign up you will also receive (if you don’t already) my weekly Finding Time Tips and my monthly Award-Winning Finding Time E-zine!

Let’s explore time together …


  1. Thanks for this, Paula. I had been using IQTELL to manage my mails, but they are no longer in business. I adapted something from them, though: I have a “GTD” (Getting Things Done) folder, in which I have the following sub-folders: “Actions,” “Projects,” “Tickler” (I’m “allowed” to pursue these ideas/projects when I have dealt with the items with priority), “Someday,” and “Waiting for Answer.” I move my mails from the inbox to the appropriate folder so that the “inbox overwhelm” is not so overpowering and I can prioritize which mails need to be answered first–or not at all.

    • Hi David – I well-remember how much you liked IQTELL. And it’s so positive that, even though IQTELL is no longer available, you’ve been able to take some of the things that were helpful and adapt them into your workflow.

      Thanks for sharing your process here. What a creative, practical, and flexible solution. And I’m so glad that it helps!



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