Seven email management tips for organizing your inbox and boosting productivity

Lydia Pang

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With so much of your life spent on the internet, an organized inbox isn’t just a matter of being tidy — it’s about being productive and focusing your attention on tasks that really matter. The average office worker receives around 121 emails and sends 40(new window) each day, leading to unnecessary distractions and dips in concentration. It can take more than 23 minutes(new window) to reorient yourself after reading and responding to an email. 

Since emails can sap your cognitive resources and decrease your efficiency, consider introducing these seven tips to your daily email routine to keep your head clear and inbox organized.

Tip one: Use custom folders and labels

Most email providers are equipped with advanced sorting capabilities, such as custom folders and labels(new window) that enable you to group your emails into different categories. Sorting your emails into folders declutters your inbox and makes it easier to locate a specific thread. Some email providers even allow you to create parent folders and subfolders to refine the process of storing emails. 

Besides storing emails in folders, you can also apply multiple labels to an email and star it(new window) to denote importance. Starred emails can be found in the starred folder, whereas clicking on a label brings up all the emails tagged with it, letting you easily find the one that you need. 

Tip two: Set filters

Filters(new window) are customized rules that help you sort your emails automatically when they land in your inbox. You can create filters according to the sender’s address, recipient’s address, email subject, and even attachment status. In addition, there are smart spam detection filters(new window) that send junk emails directly to your spam folder without any action on your part.

For granular control, some email providers also boast a block list feature that enables you to specify email addresses or domains you want to prevent from delivering messages to your inbox or custom folders. 

Tip three: Archive emails 

The archive folder is a handy way to keep a record of critical conversations and attachments indefinitely until you choose to delete them. By keeping them in a dedicated folder, it is unlikely that you’ll erase them by accident. 

Tip four: Check your inbox at scheduled times

We all experience pressure to respond to emails quickly. However, reading emails immediately after they arrive in your inbox can dramatically lower your productivity and interrupt your concentration on key tasks. 

Instead, you can block out certain times of the day to check your inbox. The amount of time required for reading and responding to emails depends on how frequently you want to go through your inbox and how many emails you typically receive. Carving out blocks of time to check your inbox not only adds structure to your day but also limits the amount of time you spend reading emails. 

Tip five: Respond to emails in batches 

Every time you switch between tasks, it takes a little while to regain your bearings. Repetitive tasks, like reading and responding to email, are most efficiently handled in batches. 

Email batching is the practice of grouping emails together and responding to them in a single session. It enables you to read, process, and reply to emails only two or three times a day, decreasing context switches and minimizing exposure to distractions in your inbox. You can also create template responses for messages you need to send consistently, allowing you to get more done in less time.  

If you want to send an email to a group of people, create a Contact group. Rather than adding email addresses individually, Contact groups allow you to reach multiple recipients and send the same email to them without extra work. 

Tip six: Unsubscribe from unnecessary newsletters

From product offers to curated news, newsletters can provide valuable information and keep you updated on the businesses you care about. However, if you are overwhelmed by the volume of daily emails you face, it might be time to unsubscribe from some newsletters(new window).

Take some time to go through your inbox and determine which newsletters and email lists you no longer enjoy. By unsubscribing from them, you are cleaning up your inbox and reducing future clutter. This can help you save time and be more productive in the long run. 

Tip seven: Correct mistakes with the Undo send feature

If you’ve ever sent an email to the wrong recipient or forgotten to attach an important file, writing another email to apologize for your mistake is not only embarrassing but also time consuming. 

Instead, you can use the Undo send(new window) feature to prevent this type of misstep. The Undo send feature works on a timer set between 5 to 20 seconds and recalls an email sent within that time frame. Once the email has been recalled, you can edit it to include the relevant information. 

Use Proton Mail for a more private and organized inbox

At Proton, our vision is to build an internet where privacy is the default. We started with email as it is one of the oldest online communication technologies available, used globally by governments, businesses, and ordinary citizens. Since its launch in 2014, Proton Mail has become the world’s largest encrypted email provider, with an uncompromising focus on user security and privacy.

Emails sent between Proton Mail users are fully end-to-end encrypted(new window), and emails sent to non-Proton Mail users can be secured using the Encrypt for Outside(new window) feature. Additionally, we offer the following organizational features to help you declutter and structure your inbox:

  • Custom folders and labels
  • Spam filtering, allow lists, and block lists
  • Advanced sieve filters
  • Undo send
  • Unsubscribe button
  • Combine emails from separate email addresses into a single inbox

If you want to enjoy these features, you can sign up for a free Proton Mail account(new window), which includes:

Our free accounts are fully funded by revenue from our paid plans, and we will never invade your privacy to spy on you or show you ads. If you want to support our mission and the development of new features, consider upgrading to a paid account(new window).

FAQ

What is email management?

Email management is the systematic approach of organizing and categorizing emails for maximum efficiency and productivity. It can help you cope with a high volume of emails without feeling overwhelmed. Some tips for effective email management include using labels and filters, archiving unimportant emails, and creating custom filters to weed out junk or spam emails.

How do I effectively manage emails?

Everyone has their own method for managing emails, but a popular method is to create folders or labels that categorize your emails from most urgent to least urgent. By prioritizing emails that are urgent, you can take action on items in a timely manner. Once you have dealt with those emails, archive or delete them so they do not clutter your inbox.

How do I organize email for productivity?

Organizing emails for productivity means minimizing routine work but maximizing output. In addition to using a folder system to sort your emails, you can set aside blocks of time to process similar types of emails and create templates for your go-to responses. If you find email notifications distracting, you can also disable them for a period of time until you are ready to check your inbox again.


Feel free to share your feedback and questions with us via our official social media channels on Twitter(new window) and Reddit(new window).


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Lydia Pang

Lydia is a lifelong book-lover and her professional experience spans several industries, including higher education and editorial writing. She's excited to write for Proton and champion privacy as a fundamental right for everyone.

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