I spend a lot of time online. Too much time.

My inbox has become a frequent source of stress.

One of my goals this fall has been to maximize the time I spend online so I can reduce the overall time in front of my computer.

I want to be outside. I want to be running, hiking, swimming, walking – heck really I want to be doing ANYTHING other than tackling my inbox. What was once fun – Oh heyyyy I have a new email – is now a constant source of stress.

Many moons ago I decided I had to separate out the blog Dorothy from the real life ME, so I created another email. I wanted to be able to keep up with my friends and not have their emails get lost in the mix. That worked for oh about a month, but then it started stressing me out that I had yet another account that I needed to keep up with. I had to figure out how to manage one email well.

Here are the steps I’m taking or have taken to minimize my inbox and get it to a point where I can handle what’s coming in…

I started out by hitting unsubscribe on as many emails as I could. After starting this process though, I began to find that I had grown attached to many of the newsletter type emails I was getting even if they were taking me away from my goal of less time online. I’d worry that maybe I’d miss something. Maybe there would be a huge sale I would be sad I missed, or what if there was a great article that I wouldn’t find if I wasn’t getting the daily {sometimes more} updates from X. I decided I needed to “Kondo” my inbox and basically thank the subscription for what it had brought me in the past but to let it go to make space in my life. Space for things that I’m passionate about.

Yes I may miss some sales {I’ve been on a year-long mission to spend less anyways} and YES there are going to be some articles that I miss out on, but I’m going to be getting back time. Time I can fill with things that add to my life, so really the things I MAY miss aren’t really making me miss anything. Still with me?

I signed up for a FREE service to help me clean out the subscriptions – ones I knew I had and ones I had forgotten I had. Unroll.me was an invaluable tool. When I signed up it found 235 subscriptions. YIKES. Even if I was only getting 1/4 of those subscriptions emailed to me on a daily basis, that’s a lot of email.

Forget all the other email that I HAD to respond to, this was just from emails that I technically probably didn’t mostly need. If I spent 2 minutes or less on each of those emails that could add up to 1 1/2 hours or more of time suck. If I found an article I liked, it upped that time to more like 3 – 5 minutes. You catch my drift.

Reducing Email Overload {How To Minimize Your Inbox} @mileposts

I went through and got rid of 50 right off the bat. Took a break and then came back and got rid of 50 more. Eventually I got my list down to 110. This is a list that I’m going to continue to analyze and try to dwindle down.

Much like when I started cleaning out my closest – it takes more than one sitting to truly let go of things….even when it’s something as simple as an email.

Related: What Downsizing My Closet Taught Me About Running & Life

Reducing Email Overload {How To Minimize Your Inbox} @mileposts

I got rid of blog notifications. There was a period of time when every single comment I received on my blog was getting emailed to me instantly. It was great for staying in touch with people or reading feedback, till it wasn’t. The comment section started to fill with trolls and when you are working on your mental health/wellness – you don’t have time for negative voices to creep in to your head. I turned off comments for a while {you can read about that decision HERE}, but recently opened them back up again. What I didn’t do however is turn on the email notifications.

Less email = fewer distractions. I don’t regret for one second turning those notifications off. YES it means I miss things, but I don’t miss the time I spent fretting over what someone was saying in the comments. I’ve found that the people who truly care about me or that feel compelled to tell me something email me. I don’t mind those type of emails as they are adding to my life, not subtracting.

Set a timer. I have emails from months ago that STILL need responses. This is part of why I’m working towards minimizing my inbox. Instead of getting caught up I’m constantly trying to keep my head above water – which really doesn’t make anyone happy. Not the person who needs the response, not the person that’s emailed me multiple times with radio silence from me and certainly not me.

I’ve been tackling these old emails by setting a timer on my phone for one hour and not getting on any other social media or looking at any other websites while I focus on responding. Picking and choosing emails hasn’t worked all that great for me because then I end up spending half of the hour figuring out who I want to email back. Instead I’ve been starting from the bottom and moving up. This means that some days I am able to answer a lot of emails and other days it’s only one or two if they are emails that require some back-end work for the proper response.

Don’t delay. I get mental blocks. Basically I know I need to do something or respond to someone – but rather than do it so it’s off my mind, I dwell on it and think about it 100 times over. What I’ve learned is that this not only stresses me out to no end, but it just makes everything worse. Respond in a timely manner and you won’t end up with an inbox that’s full of things that need to be done.

It’s sort of like fitness – I find that once I get to a certain level of fitness it’s easier to maintain that level, but once I’ve slacked off for a bit {it could be for very valid reasons or just because I need a break}, it’s that much harder getting back to where I was. Now I try to maintain my fitness as much as possible – while I’m not obsessed anymore and stuck in the faster/fitter = I’ll be happy trap – I don’t want to slide completely back to where I began.

Hit delete. It took me awhile to get to this point but sometimes you have to delete emails. If you are like me, you get a lot of emails. Sometimes you just can’t get to all of them. You have to give yourself grace and allow yourself the permission to delete. This will look different to you based on what email you are cleaning out – work, personal or some combination of work/personal. While I try to respond to every email even the ones that just need thanks – but no thanks – I do from time to time just have to go through and hit delete.

DON’T HIT REPLY ALL. Maybe your inbox is awesome and never full but if you stumbled upon this post I’m guessing yours is. Don’t hit reply all unless its necessary and ask your co-workers/friends/family to do the same.

What does this all have to do with running?! It has everything to do with running. When you have more time in your day you can use those moments for miles.

What are your tips for clearing out your inbox and keeping it clear{ish} or at the very least under some sort of control?!


  1. Danielle @ Wild Coast Tales says:

    These are all such great tips! I can’t imagine getting a blog notification every time someone commented.

    I just try and treat my inbox as a to-do list. Anything I need to really save – like important messages, key information, decisions, bills, etc. – I’ll put into folders. The only thing left in my inbox are items that I need to act on, and once I do they are removed. That really helps! I usually get bogged down actually acting on the emails so this timer idea sounds like a good plan to me!

  2. Love reducing clutter – even e-clutter. Did the unrollme… I have 7 subscriptions… hahahaha. Apparently I’ve done well at reducing that clutter!

  3. Great tips. I have to say, I never stress over email. It’s nice that gmail has it all separated into primary, social, and promotions. Guess which two tabs I ignore?

  4. These tips are awesome. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with as much as you do but my inbox tends to get cluttered mainly because I never delete emails.

  5. I have been trying to downsize my inbox unsubscribe as well. it’s really hard! Now that our MRTT group is so large we have tons of comments that all come to me!

  6. I just used this unroll! Amazing! Thank you!! A few years ago i realized I needed to delete emails so every am while listening to the news and having my am coffee I clean up my inbox. it feels good, because like you it stresses me!!:)

  7. Oops! I called it unroll and its roll up!:) thanks again!!!

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