If you’re not careful, your inbox could end up taking over your life. Perhaps not literally, but a full, messy, disorganized email system is bound to cause you stress and dissuade you from being productive. It doesn’t make sense to have an organized work life but a messy inbox, which is why it’s essential to clear it out so that you can make time for more important tasks and know that the emails delivered to you are worth having.

If you feel like your disorderly inbox is keeping you from being your best at work, here’s how to give it a complete makeover.

1. Throw away the junk

The first step to a decluttered inbox is to get rid of any emails that serve no purpose to you or that you don’t need. This is especially true for promotional emails from brands trying to market their products to you and entice you with their offers. Don’t fall for it. If you haven’t purchased from them in a while, there’s no point in hoarding content you don’t find useful.

You want only the most profitable email campaigns in your inbox. Apply the same principle to old emails you aren’t sure you want to toss. If you didn’t care about it up until this moment, you don’t need it.

Another thing about emails from your favorite brands is that they’re likely to distract you further from your job responsibilities. Create and maintain a separate email account for these types of emails. They’re not work-related and don’t do anything but clutter your inbox and leave you wondering if you should whip out your credit card.

2. Unsubscribe from everything

Maybe not everything, but a huge step to a clean account is spending time unsubscribing from campaigns you no longer care about or that don’t apply to you. You may have signed up for a discount code to try out new software or got sucked into an enticing lead magnet, but most of these offers no longer add value to your life. They came and went along with your interest.

Though this step takes a little more time since some companies require you to log in to unsubscribe from their email list, it’s a must. It’s counterproductive to delete and archive emails only to have them keep coming in day after day, wasting space. It’s worth it to change your email preferences from brands that no longer serve you.

3. Create a simple filing system

Gmail is one of the most popular and commonly-used email platforms used today with more than 1.5 billion active users. Many businesses use G-Suite as their business email domain, so its labeling feature proves useful.

Gmail uses folders, which they call labels, to organize content into different categories of your choosing. From the left-hand sidebar, scroll down and you’ll see Categories.

Scroll further and click on Create new label.

Name your label or folder whatever you’d like. You can also nest it under another label to turn it into a subcategory for further organization.

4. Use filters

Filtering emails simply means sending them to a designated spot when they arrive so that you don’t have to. This will save you countless hours as well as help you keep your inbox organized even when you aren’t around to do it.

To set up filters through Gmail, click the arrow next to the top search bar. You’ll then see boxes of form fields detailing who the emails are from, where they’ll go, keywords, attachments, and more.

When you select Create filter, you can choose where those emails will go once they come in, including archives, spam, important, etc.

5. Open emails with a purpose

When you first create your business website, it’s tempting to sign up for multiple offers you feel will help you in your endeavor. If you see an email and aren’t quite sure what you want to do with it yet, archive it. Don’t even bother opening it until you’re ready to see what it’s about and what response is expected. This is if you aren’t sure what to do with it or don’t have time to respond to it yet.

The goal when cleaning out your inbox is to have a designated spot for every email that comes in. Even if that means you leave certain emails archived, that’s better than letting them sit in your inbox with no home. When checking and sorting your emails, keep it in your head that every new email that comes in needs a place to go to so you can stay organized and keep it minimal.

Over to you

Your business inbox doesn’t have to be flooded with a thousand unread emails a day just because it’s for work. If anything, it should be even more organized than your personal email because disorganization can lead to a stressed mindset and a decrease in productivity. You’ll feel a lot better about your ability to be a strong worker once you’ve tackled that unholy inbox.