7 ways to keep on top of your inbox (right now!)

Has your e-mail inbox reached a higher total than your salary? Are you swamped with virtual newsletters, invites and requests from your boss? Looks like your digital letterbox needs a detox.

Here are all the ways to actually stay on top of your inbox and keep it at an attractive zero.

1. Setting it up

Having a well-organised system for your inbox is vital to preventing your emails going into overload. Set up priority status for your most important correspondents, filter out common spam words (e.g competition) and block bogus senders immediately. Cleverly, Gmail lets you store canned responses for certain types of email, so typing out the same message ten times a day is a thing of the past. And don’t forget about automatic replies, they’re a life saver. If you deal with lots of people asking for contact details (here’s looking at you journalists) then you can set up your inbox to recognise certain key words and automatically respond with the correct information.

2. Spam

Never, we repeat, NEVER reply to spam. There’s only one way to deal with these lifesuckers and that’s straight in the trash. Deleting as soon as you spy one is essential to an ordered inbox. Plus, don’t forget to add the sender to the blocked list.

3. Be short with people

Not in a mean way though. It’s perfectly possible to keep your replies to a minimum length without seeming abrupt or rude – people will understand you’re busy, they are too!

4. Don’t sign up

You heard us, don’t! Signing up always requires you to enter your email which is just giving advertising outfits carte blanche to launch a ton of rubbish at your email server. Obviously you’ll need to sign up to some websites (for example the excellent List for Life newsletter…) but check them out first. Using a separate account for such things isn’t a bad idea either.

5. Timing is everything

One way to manage your emails effectively is to ensure you get a response when you want it. The most likely time you’ll get a reply from someone in an office is always after midday according to Mailchimp‘s statistics, with the best times being between 2pm and 5pm.

6. ‘Send & archive’

The holy grail of email tips is this trick. Many servers offer the option to ‘send and archive’ threads that you’ve already replied to, so you don’t get caught up in a long chain, which is essentially just eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation, but in a public forum. Who really needs that?

7. Meet the stars

Important emails should get a big gold star or flag. Use this tool to mark emails as important and store them in a separate folder for easy access. This could be anything from a crib sheet to a contact list. Everything you use daily should be on your desktop, but keeping it in a starred folder is just as good.

Now what?