Sneaky Trick for Starting the Year with a Clear Inbox

Matt Cutts of Google - Wordcamp 2007
Image by Randy Stewart via Flickr

I admit it. Keeping email under control is not my long suit. I know it’s important and I have listened attentively while experts told me how to manage it, but I have not had great success in applying the theory.

Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that I am not one of those people who always has everything in order. Every now and again I blitz my intray and general desk area so that I know where things are and am able to work more effectively. But as for following a really ordered system, I don’t score highly.

I’ve given up envying the naturally – or trained to be – orderly people who, if you believe them, never have a piece of paper or any other item out of place.

And the days when I had a secretary to do this sort of thing for me are long gone.

But I still need to do something about the email “pile”.

Which was why I was very pleased to see in my RSS feed today a link to the post by Matt Cutts from Google on how to Start the Year with an Empty Inbox.

This is in the “not necessarily the most efficient in the long term, but fast and painless” category. Basically, Matt shows us how, in three easy steps, we can archive our current Gmail inbox contents (for me it was mostly stuff I know I will never get around to reading) but archiving it in such a way as to be able to find it all again in an “oldinbox”, work on individual items as we choose – and even, if the loss of our inbox contents grieves us, to undo the whole process.

I’ve used a similar process with my Outlook mailbox, for quite a while now.

Sneaky trick it may be and I’m sure it’s not in any “How to Manage Your Email” course, but it works for me.

And re-visiting my Gmail inbox just now, a couple of hours after clearing it, I saw just one item, which I did not need, and got great satisfaction from deleting it. Now the game will be to keep the inbox clear. I know that I will have to check out and deal with a number of items in the “oldinbox”, but I can’t see that being a problem.

Feels good.

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About Des Walsh

I show business owners and other professionals how to navigate the social media maze and use LinkedIn effectively. I'm an author, speaker, business coach, social media strategist and LinkedIn specialist. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Google Plus and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get my weekly Social Business Bites.


  1. CMPSprogram says:

    Empty in-boxes rule. The archiving features on gmail make it insanely easy to clear things out while not losing the security blanket factor of being able to get back to messages again when you need them. Plus, if you’re a good Googler, the ability to search through your old mail is beyond handy.

  2. Fleemarkets says:

    What I find helpful is creating rules and subfolder for every topic and empty them accordingly…saves me a lot of time.

  3. Solo Business Marketing says:

    I’m feeling on top of the world because I deleted 50 Emails from my box this morning. My plan is to delete 10 per day every day until there’s just one page or of Emails. No archiving, a straightforward get rid of it all task.

    The real trick is getting rid of the Emails that arrive while I work on this project.

    Solo Business Marketings last blog post..Time to Consider Offline Marketing