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Words By Tara Wagner

How to Handle Email Overwhelm (5 Steps)

Woman working on laptop with tea

I’m going to show you how to handle email overwhelm in five simple steps that kind of become addictive once you get started with them and you start seeing that number go down.

Make sure you watch or read to the very end to see what I do instead of some elaborate folder system, which I really don’t believe in.

Watch here or read below.

How to Handle Email Overwhelm (5 Steps) Click To Tweet

Now, the worst I have ever seen until recently was like 10 thousand emails. I thought that was like insane, but I asked in my boss lady Facebook group for examples, and I got 5,000 and I got 10,000…and then I got 21,000… and then I got 83,000.

As soon as I saw that number I literally almost had a heart attack.

Because if I had ever seen that number in my inbox, I think I would just quit.

I just couldn’t even.

The thing about this is though it becomes really addictive, it becomes really fun to see that number drop and I’m going to show you how to drop that number really fast without deleting anything that you might need or don’t want to lose sight of.

I have had what’s called a “zero inbox”, for about the last 10 years.

Because my inbox has so few in it, I went into a couple of their inboxes and did this with them.

In one case, I was able to drop her inbox from about 12,000 to about 6,000. In another case, we were able to drop it about 6,000, which is about 1/3 of her inbox, in about 20-23 minutes.

Also, just a note, we were in Gmail doing this. If you’re using a different email provider, the same steps apply, but you may need to Google how to do similar things within your own email provider.

All right. So, let’s get into this.

I’m going to go through these steps and then I’m going to go into some common issue, so make sure you read this post in its entirety and then come back and re-read it when you’re ready to actually go through these steps, okay?

STEP 1: SET A TIMER AND TO CHALLENGE YOURSELF TO GET THROUGH AS MANY EMAILS AS YOU CAN IN THAT TIME

I recommend starting off with 10 minutes.

I also recommend that you write down your starting number of emails and your ending number of emails, just so you can track it, so that you can challenge yourself every day to beat that number.

All of this hacks your psychology and your motivation to allow you to get past that procrastination, or let’s face it, straight up dread, and just get this thing done.

So, we’re keeping it small, manageable and creating a little bit of element of fun to be able to get you a little bit more motivated.

STEP NUMBER 2: CHOOSE ONE EMAIL

Just one.

Now, I personally like to tell people to choose one that you know you get a lot of, like maybe those craft store ones that like to send them three times a day, because you’re going to see the biggest drops in that number and it’s going to be super, super motivating.

Now, you’re going to find certain types of emails over and over again that are the biggest culprit in your inbox.

The first being social media notifications. Your first step with this is to turn those b*tches off.

Turn. them. off.

The next one you’re going to notice is things like receipts or bills and I recommend doing a search and saving all of those directly, right away, first thing before you do anything else.

And the third is going to be subscriptions, newsletters.

I recommend that you go through these on a regular basis and that you ask yourself four questions:

  1. Is this improving my life?
  2. Is this inspiring me?
  3. Is this helping me to meet my goals?
  4. Is this aligning with my values?

If you can’t say yes to those things, then it’s time to just unsubscribe.

Sometimes you really have to hunt for that unsubscribe button, but whatever you do, do not just click spam. This does not guarantee that it takes you off of their list. It does not guarantee that you will not get these emails in the future.

That said, if the email looks questionable, obviously don’t click anything, then you do want to send it to spam.

You don’t even want to reply back to those emails simply because that tells them that there’s a real person at that email address and they could end up selling your email to other people and then your inbox is full of emails again.

hands typing on lap top

STEP 3: SEARCH BY EMAIL

Take the email address from the email you just unsubscribed from, paste it into the search bar of your email inbox, then click the drop-down to choose to search only the inbox for this email address.

You want to do this because otherwise, it’ll search things that you’ve maybe put in folders to save and then you can wind up accidentally deleting those with the next step.

STEP NUMBER 4: SELECT ALL

Click the select all and look for an option to pop up that allows you to select any other emails that match your search.

You want to click this. If you don’t, you’re going to have to scroll through every page to delete 50 at a time and if you have something like 2 thousand of a certain email, trust me, you don’t want to go through those 50 at a time.

STEP NUMBER 5: DELETE THEM (BUT CAREFULLY)

This is the most gratifying step of all.

However, before you do this, depending on the email sender, you may want to do a quick scan, making sure that you’re not deleting anything that, perhaps, you want to save.

That’s it. Those are the five steps. Open, unsubscribe, search by email, select all, delete. Lather, rinse, repeat.

BUT, HERE’S WHERE YOU MIGHT RUN INTO PROBLEMS.

What we found when we were searching for all emails, is that for some reason it wouldn’t pull up all emails. Try to come back the next day to try it again, and see if it’s working that way.

Also, be aware that some companies send their newsletters through multiple email addresses or multiple lists.

This is why we search for these emails by email address and not by keyword, because you don’t want to delete a bunch that maybe you haven’t unsubscribed from yet.

I also ran into the issue of Gmail kicking me out because of what, it called, “unusual activity”, so this is why that time limit is also really helpful, to make sure that you’re not freaking out the security on your Gmail account.

Seriously, if you haven’t deleted emails in 10 years, of course they’re going to think that you’re hacked.

Another problem that you personally might face is just the fear of that mass delete. Worrying that you are deleting something that is super important or that you’re going to need down the road.

I know it can be a little bit nerve-racking to let go of all these emails and worry that, oh my gosh, I need to go through each one and what happens if … deep breath, you got this.

You can do this. It’s going to feel so good. It’s going to feel amazing.

LASTLY, I WANT TO ANSWER THE QUESTION, WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE KEEPERS?

The things that you want to keep or the newsletters that you don’t want to unsubscribe from.

Do not waste time with some elaborate folder system.

It actually takes more time to file things into folders and to search through folders than it does what I’m going to tell you to do.

I recommend that you have two folders.

One folder is just for receipts, order confirmations, things like that, that you may need for taxes or you may need for reference later down the road.

Then, I recommend a read once a week folder.

I use this folder to auto-filter certain things directly into it that I want to read, I want to keep, but I want to read on my schedule. I don’t want it distracting me when I’m there to do business.

You might find it necessary to have one or two more folders, but I just want you to be careful adding more because it gets out of hand really, really quickly.

You may have a temp folder, you may have a swipe folder, you may have an inspiration folder where you’re just sending positive emails that you’ve gotten from clients or customers.

All of that’s okay, just make sure that you’re very intentional with your folders and don’t folder everything that you don’t need to. Just click that little archive button. Just … that’s all you need to do.

ALL RIGHT, SO NOW YOU KNOW HOW TO HANDLE THE EMAIL OVERWHELM AND CLEAN OUT YOUR INBOX, BUT WHAT ABOUT KEEPING IT CLEAN?

I’m going to come back at you next week with part two of this post, where I show you how I have maintained a zero inbox for the past 10 years and I promise it’s easy, once you know a few rules.

Also, in my Facebook group, I am challenging everyone to tackle this together.

Be sure to join us to get support as you are cleaning out your inbox this week.

NOW, HOW’S ABOUT A LITTLE SELF-CARE AFTER ALL THAT?

This task may feel a little dreaded. So here’s a little gift for you for when you finish and hit that goal number of email in your inbox.

In this free guide, you’ll find 50+ ways to fill your cup while rockin’ your biz.

Be sure to download it to show yourself some self-care because there’s no way your business can be at it’s best if you’re not at your best!

WHAT ABOUT YOU, BOSS LADY?

How many emails are in your inbox?

And if you are up for the daily 10-minute challenge, comment below with challenge accepted.

Scroll down to leave your comments!

xoTara-teal

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*This post may contain affiliate links and I may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclaimer here.

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