I’ve dipped into many different life hacking posts, books and shows on how to be more efficient and productive, but I really wish I’d just pressed archive all a lot earlier.

It’s that simple.

When I combined this with using email search (instead of folders) and immediately processing emails that take two minutes, I found I actually have a rad system for email management.

If you feel like you have an email avalanche descending, you might find these steps a good jumping-off point for taming the inbox and inner email-hoarder.

1. Archive All. Press the button. Emails are still there. You can use the search bar to find them later if you need. And that’s much more intuitive than folders. Make this your fresh start.*

2. Now, stop checking emails. I am very good at reading an email on my phone and then leaving it in my inbox without action for another week. The golden rule is if you are going to look at it, you may as well be processing it – properly.

I like Merlin Mann’s simple system for sorting every email that lands in your inbox. You have five options:

Common sense, right?

For me, responding to emails that take less than two minutes freed me of an unnecessary attachment to ‘lurking’ emails. This simple rule has changed me from a hoarder to a ninja. Try it sometime.

3. Finally, get rid of folders, just use search. You’re probably not a librarian so stop cataloging emails into folders. Search will yield better results, faster as the tags you use to search are easier on the brain than remembering the one folder you hide that email in. Forget fumbling through folders like “AAA Important” and “AA Important”. Seriously.

A lot of the ideas for this cobbled together system I took from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, Merlin Mann’s highly recommended Inbox Zero talk at Google and my buddies @rosshill, @edwardharran @sarahmoran and @lukemccormack.

*If you want to be more cautious before pressing Archive All, take Sarah Moran’s advice:

I recommend start at the last page of your emails and work forward.  Scan (quickly) the page and say “are there any actions here?” if the answer is no, then select all for that page of emails and archive them.

They are still there, but they aren’t in your face. You can google them later to find them!”

Good luck! I’d love to hear how you deal with your email overload.

8 thoughts on “ESCAPE FROM INBOX 3000

  1. Oh oh! And it took me FOREVER to find the “Archive” button on my iPhone Bryony: if you just swipe the email a red archive button appears. I was sooooo happy when I found this!

    1. I use my iPhone to filter out the garbage: I immediately archive emails that don’t require action using the ‘edit’ button then ‘tap tap tap’ I choose those for archive, and my inbox is less cluttered with junk when I sit down at my computer!

  2. Using the phone to delete email is a great idea. I do it waiting for the lift. Im also a big fan of labels. (Action, Read etc). Get stuff out of the Inbox so you dont actually miss the important stuff. Just make sure you go back to your labelled items later on.

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