Decluttering your email is part of decluttering your life

I am a big fan of decluttering. Here I discuss decluttering email.

My wife and I have moved so many times and each move we donate at least 5-10 boxes of stuff (books, clothes, décor, etc). We are getting better about not accumulating things anymore, but for the first 5 years together we did not practice a minimalist’s approach.

Now I will not say we are true minimalists as we have a large home with clothes, furniture, etc. Our son, in particular, has the most stuff right now. Still, we are conscious of our purchases and if we have not used something for over 6 months to a year than it is donated or sold on craigslist (and now the Facebook marketplace). This philosophy of decluttering permeates our lives. By keeping things to a minimum we can keep them organized, clean, and used. With less things, there is less maintenance = less stress. For me, this philosophy even goes to email.

Decluttering email

The email basket has become a staple of modern life. Our phones give us immediate access to it, our friends can communicate with us with it, and advertisers can bombard us through it. While Gmail has a great Spam filter that sorts out the truly unsavory emails, I find that throughout the year I accumulate emails from agencies that I just don’t care about or need. Some of the emails are frequent, some are sparse, but all are annoying. As with material things, the less emails I have, and the cleaner my inbox, the happier I am.

So how do I declutter my email? Well it is an active process with at least monthly attacks:

·      If there is a one click option, then go ahead and unsubscribe on the spot. This is what I do most of the time. It is a One and Done approach.

·       If it requires a log in to unsubscribe, then I will dump all of those emails in a separate folder. Then once a month I go in and unsubscribe to all of the emails.

·      I use folders, but with laser precision, if I choose to make a folder it is for a specific task. Once the task is done, the emails and folders are removed.

·      Worried about loosing your emails? If you use Gmail (which is what I use) then you can “Archive” messages, which will place them under “All Mail” tab. Then if you really need that email from 1 year ago it is easily searchable. I am not sure how other email programs work with this feature. For instance, I quit using Macintocsh’s Mail program because there was no good way to archive messages.

Simple right? It gives me control of what is coming in and takes control away from the advertisers. So keep it clean. Go through and start getting names off of those email lists. What tips do you have for keeping your online life simple?

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Also published on Medium.


I am a Dad and Doctor trying to find financial freedom by owning my dollars and debts. Helping dads with their finances so they can focus on the family.

2 thoughts on “Decluttering your email is part of decluttering your life

  • May 30, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Setup filters in Gmail (or Outlook or whatever program you use)! All those marketing emails that you don’t want to see but might go back to look at when you decide you need product XYZ, filter them to skip the inbox. Social media notifications also skip the inbox.

    I also apply labels/folders to those that I leave in the Inbox (usually by project, charitable work, financial, etc) for easy archiving after I read them. I do want to see all the emails from my bank, for example, to make sure no fraudulent transactions happen. But with the labels already applied, I can easily archive them but find all financial related things together. Better than straight searching when trying to find a specific email (at least for me)

    • May 30, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      That is a great plan for organizing your email. I do use my spam folder and go through and delete that regularly. As for labels, I do use them but not for leaving in the in box. I like that idea!


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