I love email! It might not be something that you hear often, especially from somebody who strives for a simple life, but I do love email. Why? It’s a quick and effective communication tool, and a great place to retrieve information. The key to email is keeping it simple.

Here are three ways that I keep my inbox clean and don’t get bogged down by emails.

1. Opt-In Selectively, and Opt-Out Often

I’m picky about what I choose to opt-in to. I do have a number of blog subscriptions and notifications that come to my inbox, but those sources are important to me. I know that if I’m going to allow something to send me an email on a regular basis, I’m essentially giving that content source the green light to find it’s way into my life.

On the flip-side, I opt-out of email subscriptions often. If there is a source of information that I no longer find relevant, or determine that their content is not either necessary, nor bringing joy to my day, I opt-out. Instead of just deleting unwanted emails, be sure to unsubscribe from the source. Many shopping sites and services will add you to promotional lists after purchasing from them, and these advertising emails can be a catalyst for future thoughtless spending.

2. Take Action On First Glance

When you go to check your email, see it as a decision making session. You’ve come to review what’s in front of you, and make decisions on how to address each item. The key to a simple inbox is to take action on first glance with each message.

I personally use a system where there are three different actions I take. I either reply, archive, or mark for later. Replying is self explanatory. When I archive an email, I usually store in a in a specific folder/label based on the message. “Mark for later” may send like a cop-out for not taking action on first glance, but it’s often for emails that require more information, or additional input.

3. Only Message When Necessary

Our text-based communication channels like email, instant messenger, and cell phone messaging, have created a culture of “send first, think later”. This mindset has created many unnecessary email conversations, that could have been avoided altogether. Out of respect for the recipient’s time, as well as to avoid creating additional emails in your inbox, only send emails when necessary.

Have other tips to simplify email? Share them in the comments!

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