I don’t like the term ‘INBOX ZERO’!

With 12 mailboxes to oversee and manage on behalf of my clients and my own business, aiming for zero inbox every day is not a realistic goal that I can consistently maintain - and without consistency you are more likely to fail. However I also hate the little red push notification telling me how many unread emails I have so here's how I balance that out....

I use my inboxes as a reference point throughout each day to manage my workload. So instead of aiming to have an empty Inbox at the end of every day, I have a simple system that I use to manage each mailbox by adopting one or more of the 4 tools below:

  1. Set up sub-folders for filing away actioned emails for future reference - you can use all sorts of categories; date, project name, location, client name, customer name.

  2. Allocate coloured categories to differentiate between projects and make searching on a topic easier.

  3. Use flags as action reminders - you can customise a flag by selecting a due date.

  4. Create automated responses or templates for frequently sent emails.

All of these help me keep each inbox under control, up to date and most importantly not overwhelming.

The above method works well for keeping my main inboxes under control however I do neglect the Sent Items folder. In an ideal world I would spend more timing regularly giving this area a little more TLC to stop it from overflowing but when time is limited my top tip when it comes to reviewing your Sent Items folder is to firstly sort by Size, and then sort by Subject.

Sorting by SIZE groups all the emails you have sent with large attachments - filtered by size. These emails take up so much space so review and delete the emails with large PDFs attached that you know you have saved elsewhere.

Then sort the entire folder by SUBJECT line which groups all emails threads and discussions together. Unless there are versions of documents attached that need to be kept, I tend to delete all emails except for the last exchange.


If an email takes 30 seconds or less to action then I just get on with it - it's not worth my time to flag, file or do anything else in this instance - just send a quick reply and delete/file, add a date to your diary or unsubscribe. Job done!

If the thought of tackling an overflowing Inbox is too much, let me help - I like a challenge! The last inbox audit I completed helped my client go from 14,500 emails to 800 - twelve months on and his Inbox is still managing itself and no longer bursting at the seams.

Ellie Lane
Fast Lane VA Ltd

E: ellie@fastlaneva.com
M: 07814 456740