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reclaim inboxIs there anything else that’s as useful, prevalent, and frustrating as an email inbox? It’s been around forever and we keep using it, and as long as we keep using it, people like me will keep writing about it. You probably think it’d be easier to tame a lion than tame your inbox, but there are tools that will make you think twice.

There are built-in features for some email services that will do most of the heavy organizational work for you. Some email experts have devised techniques to help you tackle a cluttered inbox and reclaim inbox organization. And then there are gamification options that make it fun to deal with your unread emails. Use one of them or use all of them – either way, take back control of your inbox today!

The Yesterbox Technique

reclaim inbox

Do you get a gnawing sensation in your gut every time you peek at your inbox? “Never-ending treadmill” is a term that may be applicable – those emails just keep flying in. Even when you clear it down to zero, it just fills right back up within a matter of hours (or, God forbid, minutes). Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, developed a technique to deal with this exact issue.

He calls it the “Yesterbox Technique” and the concept behind it is simple: when you open up your email, your to-do list for today are all of your emails from yesterday. This puts a finite cap on how many emails you have to manage. As you read, respond, and delete those emails, the number of remaining emails constantly heads toward zero, providing a sense of progress and achievement.

There’s a bit more to it than that, of course, and you can read the whole breakdown of the technique on yesterbox.com.

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The Email Game The Email Game: Have Fun & Earn Points Emptying Your Inbox For Real! The Email Game: Have Fun & Earn Points Emptying Your Inbox For Real! Read More

reclaim your inbox

Emails wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the sheer volume that we have to deal with. When you see a million emails that need to be sorted out, it’s easy to freeze up in fear or laziness. Why not turn that whole process into a game, then? That’s what the makers of the Email Game asked themselves.

The aim of the Email Game is to clear out your inbox as fast as possible. We don’t want to just select all and delete every email at once – which would feel surprisingly good – so Email Game presents you one email at a time. You can reply to it, archive it, or boomerang it (brings it back to your inbox after a set period of time). Doing all of these things earns you points.

At the end, you see your final score and how much time you saved while using the Email Game. The points don’t really mean anything, but the game itself is a fantastic way to transform an otherwise mundane task into something enjoyable. Read Justin’s review of the Email Game The Email Game: Have Fun & Earn Points Emptying Your Inbox For Real! The Email Game: Have Fun & Earn Points Emptying Your Inbox For Real! Read More .

Gmail Priority Inbox Gmail's Priority Inbox Solves The Bacn Problem Gmail's Priority Inbox Solves The Bacn Problem Read More

reclaim your inbox

Did you know that Gmail will automatically sort and organize your inbox according to priority? It’s a feature that’s aptly called Priority Inbox Gmail's Priority Inbox Solves The Bacn Problem Gmail's Priority Inbox Solves The Bacn Problem Read More and it’s the perfect mixture of simple and helpful. Basically, it divides your inbox into three sections by default: priority emails, starred emails, and the rest. You can add more sections if you’d like and you can select which labels automatically filter into which sections.

Never again will you need to slog through Facebook notifications and unimportant newsletter updates – they’ll sit at the bottom of your inbox until you’re ready to view them. All of the important stuff will sit at the top, ready for you to tackle it ASAP.

Gmail Filters 5 Gmail Filters to Help Prioritize & Organize Your Inbox 5 Gmail Filters to Help Prioritize & Organize Your Inbox What filters should each and every person have in their arsenal so that their inbox is as orderly as mine? I'm here to help you get started in setting up your first five filters, or... Read More

reclaim your inbox

Filters are another great way to keep your inbox organized. You can think of them as criteria for incoming emails – if the email matches any of your filters, it’ll be sorted according to the actions for that filter. For example, you can set a filter that takes all emails from “bob@notarealemail.com” and labels it as a “Work” email.

Filter creation is easy yet flexible. There are some really creative uses for filters and your creativity is the only limit on how you want to use them. Check out Craig’s useful Gmail filters for organizing your inbox 5 Gmail Filters to Help Prioritize & Organize Your Inbox 5 Gmail Filters to Help Prioritize & Organize Your Inbox What filters should each and every person have in their arsenal so that their inbox is as orderly as mine? I'm here to help you get started in setting up your first five filters, or... Read More .

Gmail Canned Responses Email Faster & Better With Canned Responses Email Faster & Better With Canned Responses Don’t have time to cook lunch? No problem, grab a can. Need some camping chow that won’t go bad? Easy, get some canned food. Tired of typing the same email replies? Try canned emails! Think... Read More

email inbox management

Ever feel like you’re constantly pushing out the same emails, the same responses, the same messages day in and day out? What you need are canned responses. “What are those?” you ask. Well, imagine you have a shelf of cans and each can holds a certain type of email response. When you need one, you pop open the can, pull one out, and send it. Or in other words, template email responses.

You can save a lot of time with these. Like, a LOT of time. Check out Tina’s overview of Gmail canned responses Email Faster & Better With Canned Responses Email Faster & Better With Canned Responses Don’t have time to cook lunch? No problem, grab a can. Need some camping chow that won’t go bad? Easy, get some canned food. Tired of typing the same email replies? Try canned emails! Think... Read More for an in-depth look at what you can accomplish with this awesome feature.

Master Email Account Combine Your Email Accounts Into a Single Inbox: Here's How Combine Your Email Accounts Into a Single Inbox: Here's How Juggling several email inboxes can be a hassle, but luckily with all the main email providers - Gmail, Outlook (Hotmail) and Yahoo - you can merge all of your email accounts into one inbox, and... Read More

reclaim inbox

Managing a single email account is hard enough as it is. What if you need to keep track of two email accounts? Or more? Not only do you need to do a lot of signing in and out (unless you use something like a desktop email client 5 Of The Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime [Windows] 5 Of The Best Desktop Email Clients That Don't Cost a Dime [Windows] Specialization is the key to efficiency, especially in the realm of software. Programs that try to "do it all" end up becoming bloated, messy, and subpar in most of what they do. On the other... Read More ), it’s just a hassle having to swap from inbox to inbox. If each inbox is large enough, you’ll find yourself in constant messy confusion.

Fortunately, Nancy has written a guide on consolidating email into a single account Combine Your Email Accounts Into a Single Inbox: Here's How Combine Your Email Accounts Into a Single Inbox: Here's How Juggling several email inboxes can be a hassle, but luckily with all the main email providers - Gmail, Outlook (Hotmail) and Yahoo - you can merge all of your email accounts into one inbox, and... Read More . She covers the step-by-step process for Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook (formerly Hotmail), and general mail forwarding. For those of you with multiple email accounts, this solution may revolutionize your emailing.

Conclusion

There’s no reason why you need to look at your inbox and be filled with that impending sense of doom. Email shouldn’t be frustrating or fearful. Using the tips and tools above, you can flip that around and start living a new life that’s void of inbox fright. Don’t let email control you – take control of it!

Have any other tips and tools for reclaiming your inbox? Please share them with us in the comments!

Image Credits: Email Letter Via Shutterstock, Inbox Via Shutterstock

  1. danny6114
    July 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I just wish there was a way to discourage all the spam that fills my junk box. I'd love a button that when pushed erased my address from the spammers list or sent a crippling virus.

    • Skye C
      July 8, 2013 at 1:23 am

      i really like the Virus idea, a virus that filled their inbox to the max with useless crap

  2. Trinae R.
    July 5, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Good article. Tried some of the suggestion here, including The Email Game. I would like to recommend https://mailstrom.co/ as it's been one of the best tools for getting through the slog of daily email.

    • Joel Lee
      July 8, 2013 at 5:57 am

      Interesting concept for Mailstrom. I don't know if I'd use it myself, but I'm glad it exists. Unlimited free trial is great, too!

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