I like to keep my inbox clean…really clean!  So each year I always start 2 new personal (.pst) folders.  This year I added “Inbox 2013” and “Sent 2013”.  I didn’t always do this.  In fact, I used to have a folder for each colleague I work with, as well as each client.  However, I found that the time I took to sort each email to its respective folder could be better used catching up on important projects.  All that sorting just took too much time.  I mean how often do we really need to access an old email?  And if you ever do, you can always use the “advanced search” features of Outlook or whatever email system you use to find what you are looking for.

As I move throughout the day, I file away things that might need my attention into a “to do” folder.  This folder doesn’t differentiate from things that need to be done now verses what can be done at a later date, but it does help me to keep everything in order so I don’t forget it.  Then at the end of the day, I will take all the emails still in my inbox that I don’t need to take action on and move them to my “Inbox 2013” folder.  I do the same with the sent emails, only I place these in “Sent 2013”.  This keeps my inbox clean and also ensures that I never have to get the “your email is almost at capacity” warning.

During the day I spend focused time in my “to do” folder.  This helps me to stay on track and not waste time reacting to each new email that comes in.  By focusing my efforts in blocks of time, I am much more efficient.  And, as I make my way through the list, I often find that some things have taken care of themselves.  Once done with an item, I simply move it to my “Inbox 2013” folder for the year.

Another great way to keep your inbox clear is to follow John Battelle’s method:  http://linkd.in/ZnO1s7.  He likes to treat his inbox as his “to do” folder.  He filters through emails throughout the day, deleting ones that are unnecessary and then moving ones that he doesn’t need to take care of right away to his “crack” folder.  It’s his way of making sure that nothing ever “falls through the cracks” while keeping his inbox manageable.

What emails tricks do you use to keep your inbox manageable?