I’m celebrating because I totally cut down my emails.

Recently in my Greater Ashburton Business Facebook group I dared everyone to share their inbox numbers.  I had thousands of emails and a few hundred unread emails. Most people had way less than me.


I had to take action. Mostly, I generally prefer to be better than everyone else, if at all possible.

Inbox bankruptcy: no thanks

I considered this technique, where you delete everything and live with the consequences. But I decided against it. Because, (expert tip) copywriting clients tend to prefer you to read and respond to their emails instead of deleting them unread.

My approach to managing my inbox and maintaining my sanity

I’m sharing how I did it in case it helps you too.

Be ruthless. You must have no ruth. No one needs emails ‘just in case.’ That is not a thing. You must delete about 90% of your emails.

1. Mass delete

Anything over six months old I deleted en masse.

2. Name search

I quickly deleted emails by searching by name (eg Woolworths) and deleting them all.

3. Unsubscribe

I questioned how many brands I was subscribing to and unsubbed from a lot. A LOT. Sorry for shouting but it’s really important. I did the right thing and followed the unsubscribe link and formally unsubscribed.

(Side note: how annoying is it when brands email you to confirm that you have unsubscribed? Ahem, very!)

(Next side note: no one, ever, in the history of emails has unsubscribed by accident. Why do brands think this is a thing? It is not.)

4. Use Unsubscriber for pesky brands

There is always the one brand who simply do not respond to unsub requests (oh, hey there JAG). Instead of unsubscribing once a week, for the rest of eternity I flick them to my Gmail unsubscribe folder.  This done via a plugin called Unsubscriber.  The best invention ever and from henceforth everyone should stop saying ‘best thing since sliced bread’ and replace it with ‘best thing since Unsubscriber’.

5. Choose your gurus

A lot of my email subscriptions are from business leaders and lifestyle influencers who share inspiring articles. I didn’t want to ditch them all. So, I chose only one per category – one for fitness, one for health, one for parenting, etc. I gave preference to Australians because I’m parochial like that.

6. Use Unsubscrbe for discounts

I don’t want to miss out on discounts from my favourite brands, but I don’t want their emails clogging up my inbox. So, I moved emails from these brands into the unsubscribe folder in Gmail, rather than directly unsubbing.  Now, if I am considering a purchase from Country Road I can check the unsub folder for any discount offers and the emails don’t hang unwanted in my inbox.

7. Primary folder for primary emails only

I made sure all subscriptions were going to the Gmail promotions folder and not the primary folder. This is easy: you can click and drag the offending email across to promotions. Then, a popup asks if you want all emails from this person in your promotions folder, to which the obvious answer is ‘hell, yeah.’

8. No subs to main work email address

I updated all my subscriptions to ensure they were going to my Gmail and not my main work email account.

9. Emails instead of candy crush

When I have a few spare moments, I check out my promotions folder and read the words of wisdom from my gurus. I then delete them as I’ve read them.

10. Maintenance is like eating BBQ Shapes: essential and neccesary

Allocate 10 minutes a week for main to delete recent emails to keep on top of the inbox – eternal vigilance people!


What’s your email inbox like? Do you have any tips on how you keep your emails under control? Tell me in the comments.

(Or don’t. I’m cool, and not needy or desperate for comments in any way.)