If we’re not careful our inbox can get pretty cluttered — and very quickly. As email remains the go-to communication channels for most professionals (nearly a billion professional email accounts and 5% on the rise every year), it’s not unheard of to receive upwards of 200 emails/day. This can add a fair amount of stress to your daily “must-do” list.

Thankfully, a good workflow to manage the email helps immensely, and the hard-earned tips below have significantly improved my productivity while in the inbox (spending about 1/2 as much time there as last year!).

I hope these tips help you as much as they did me. Feel free to leave a comment below on how you’ve hacked your inbox!

1. 100 emails is easier to process than 200

To cut your email in your inbox in 1/2, consider filtering all of your newsletters, internet deals, blog subscriptions etc. You can do so manually, but I suggest you check out unroll.me to do so automatically. 

These services give you a daily update on all of these “less important” emails, and also make it easy for you to unsubscribe from any email that you don’t need.

2. Your inbox is not your home

This could be the biggest change you can make with your email habits. Avoid “sitting in your inbox” and just make it one other workflow that you process a few times a day.


When you sit in your inbox and react to emails as they come in, you’re bouncing between tasks and multi-tasking has been shown to not be productive for 98% of people!

Keep your business email separate from your personal email.

My personal rule of thumb is to not check email more often than once every hour. Try it. You might be surprised at what you find!

3. Shortcuts are your friends

Fly through your inbox with shortcuts like these and check out this introductory post

4. Reply to (almost) every email in less than 2 minutes

Keep your replies concise, succinct, direct, and actionable. What is the further action after this email?

Here’s a great post explaining the 2 minute rule and general zero inbox logic.

5. Deal with NOW, not later

If that email needs to be handled later, DON’T let it remain in your inbox distracting you… BOOMERANG it.

  • This brilliant tool called Boomerang allows you to pick a message that needs to arrive back into your inbox so that project that you don’t have time for this week can be back in your workflow next week. Even better, say you want to make sure that someone replies to your email, you can send it with boomerang and if they don’t reply, that email will come back into your inbox 2 hours, 2 days, 1 week later so you can follow up and make sure things move forward.
  • They also have a Send Later function where you can choose at what specific time to send an email. Emails are more likely to be read right after lunch, or early in the AM (as they’re at the top of the inbox).
  • This becomes really handy when you’re exchanging with folks from different time zones.

6. Archive everything that’s done

Delete, archive, move to the “DONE” folder anything that is done and/or won’t matter to you in the future. How many emails are in your inbox right now?

If all those messages could be magically cleared away, how many would be there tomorrow morning, or in a week?

Image source: Pixabay