Since January 22nd-28th is National Clean Out Your Inbox Week (I can’t make this stuff up), why not start the year with a clean e-mail slate and a few techniques to easily keep it that way. I say that not because I’m an expert, but because I am in desperate need of downsizing my own inbox! In my research on best practices for purging an overstuffed inbox, I came across a few simple but effective ideas that I’m now implementing to make my inbox as uncluttered as the “after” photos of my clients’ homes. If you’re also tired of sifting endlessly through tons of emails, please try these techniques for an hour as they suggested and let me know how they work for you in the comments section below.

First 10 Minutes: Delete unneeded messages such as social media notifications, past events, and non-relevant e-mails. Also search for common senders – companies or individuals you receive emails from frequently. Quickly scroll through those messages, trashing all but the ones you need to act on.

Next 20 Minutes: Create folders (called Labels in Gmail) to categorize emails as they arrive so they don’t clutter up your inbox. For example, if you’re a wine enthusiast, you might have a folder titled “Wine Info” and select the email addresses of your wine-loving friends or vineyards that notify you of their latest tasting events. Some organizing experts suggest broader categories like “Work”, “Kid’s school” or “Recreation”. Both Gmail and Outlook have tutorials to show you how to set up rules so those emails automatically go into the folders you created for them.

An Additional 20 Minutes: Go through the remaining emails using the “2 minute rule” of taking action on the email or putting an action item from the email on your To Do list.

Take the final 10 minutes to unsubscribe from any news feeds, ads or newsletters that aren’t relevant or informative for you. That includes the Downsize My Home newsletter, as we don’t want to be a source for cluttering up your world in any way! Hopefully, however, you’ll find this and other information we share unboring enough to keep around or even share with friends. Here’s to a clutter-free, productive 2019!