Inbox Productivity Hacks — Here are 5 Tips that Help

Inbox e-mail

How do you feel about your inbox?

Does your inbox ever feel like your enemy? Does it feel relentless and demanding — a never-ending source of stress and overwhelm?

It’s true that your stress level is often directly related to the number of e-mails in your inbox.

And, at the same time, finding time to manage your e-mail isn’t always the top priority on your to-do list.

So, how do you deal with this necessary tool that can also be such an endless source of stress in your life?

Inbox 101

This Cyber Monday, I’d like to share 5 simple tips that can help you get your inbox (AND your stress level) down to size.  Like your to-do list, your inbox doesn’t have to be unmanageable.

Here are two top-tier tips to get you started:

  • Don’t dawdle — decide and move on. Make your choices about received items as quickly as possible. This keeps your inbox from becoming a catch-all.  When you receive an e-mail, read it quickly and then either reply immediately, forward it (if you want to share it), save it to another folder (if you want to keep it for future reference), retain it for further action, or delete it.
  • You don’t know what you can’t see. It’s important to be able to see everything in your inbox without needing to scroll down. The things that you can’t see have the potential to get lost.  The unseen will likely generate stress for you, too. It’s a good idea to clean out your inbox at least once a week, and an even better idea to do it once a day. This may not always be possible, but if you can get it down to even just two or three messages that will be great.

3 More Tips to Power Your Productivity

  • Create additional folders, either for storing e-mails that you may need later or for categorizing them for easy retrieval. You may want to create a folder for things to do.  Or, you might choose to use your inbox as the place for holding your “things to do.” That way you’ll know that items in your inbox are things that you need to tend to. Once you’ve completed a task, if you still need the e-mail, you can move it to one of your storage folders.
  • Remember that in most e-mail systems when you send an e-mail, a copy is retained in your “Sent” folder. Likewise, when you delete something it doesn’t immediately disappear.  It is simply moved to your Deleted Items folder. These folders can eventually get to be quite full, and so I recommend that you clean them out regularly.  Schedule a time for doing this weekly.
  • That two-step process for deletions can actually be quite helpful. If you’re nervous about deleting something, let it stay in your deleted items folder for a longer period of time. Once you’re sure that you don’t need it, you can then delete it from that folder.

If you’re a subscriber to Finding Time Tips, you may have already received some other e-mail management ideas. Managing your inbox is a powerful organizational, time management, and stress-reducing tool.

And there’s more…

Overwhelmed? Discouraged? Stuck? Well, here’s something that will help you loosen those logjams and start moving again!

“Why Can’t I Ever Get Anything Done?” How to Transform Your Life Using These 101 Time Tips is a compilation of 101 of my most popular time tips in expanded form, offering practical, heart-based wisdom in right-sized bites for easy digestion!

It includes time-tested tips and action steps separated into 11 common categories to help you find just what you need in the moment you need it. You know, transforming your life is all about transforming your time.  It’s within your reach, and these 101 Time Tips give you 101 stepping stones to your time success.

And I’ve got a very special bonus for you, too. Why Can’t I Find My Direction?” 17 Priority Power™ Questions to Serve as Your Compass is a workbook designed to support you in making the changes you most desire. There’s so much for you here, and you can learn about it by clicking the link below:

Let’s explore time together …


  1. Dear Paula,
    Thank you for this post. In a reply to another Cyber Monday post of yours, I recommended IQTELL, an excellent e-mail management service. They suddenly stopped providing service and have been shut down since July 31.
    The system was a perfect fit to my needs and when it shut down, I remembered your other posts about dealing with sudden change. Even though the change was not sudden, it was a major change to how I work and organize my e-mails. It was hard not to panic but, as another IQTELL user pointed out, we were able to work before IQTELL and will be able to work after IQTELL. That also reminded me of your posts and I was able to step back–and even away–from the problem. Now, it does not seem as drastic and I am sure that I will be able to maintain an organized inbox, even if it is not “in-box zero.” (Your posts about not having to be perfect have also helped there!)
    All best to you and the Time FInder Community!

    • Hi David – It’s so good to hear about all the ways you’re assimilating and using the information that you’ve gleaned here. I can definitely relate to the challenge of losing a key piece of your work routine. It’s disorienting and frustrating. And it’s quite remarkable how the changes ripple out, affecting areas of life that might, at first blush, seem unrelated. It’s inspiring to read how you’re working your way through the challenges. Isn’t it remarkable how these upheavals can illuminate and solidify skills that we hadn’t quite realized we possessed? I’ll be curious to hear if you settle on a replacement for IQTELL. And, in the meantime, I celebrate your many time successes! Best to you, Paula

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