How to clean a mailbox @ BYUI

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM Call us: (208) 496-9000

Cleaning Tips

Keepin your mailbox clean is an ongoing process.  Here are some tips we've learned along the way.  Feel free to add more to the list.

  1. Clean out your RSS Feeds folder
  2. Empty your Deleted Items folder
  3. Clean out unneeded items in your Sent Items folder
  4. File Your Email into Folders
    1. Use whatever system works best for you. You can categorize your email folders by source (ie: clients, accounts, vendors); type (ie: projects, reference, waiting); or task (ie: follow-up, archive, on hold). As soon as you've read your email, file it in its appropriate folder.
  5. Use Rules and Filters to Manage Your Email for You
    1. Outlook has the ability to sort your incoming emails based on simple rules and filters that you set up. For example, you could create a rule that says anytime you receive an email from a specific email address, it's automatically moved into the folder you specify. Outlook can also be configured to filter your email and send your spam directly into the trash so you don't waste time reading and deleting it.
    2. Once you've emptied your inbox, keep it empty. Commit to making a decision about the fate of every read message on the spot. Never leave a read or answered message in your inbox. Delete it or file it.
  6. More Quick Email Tips
    1. If you can answer an email in one minute or less, do so immediately and check it off your list.
    2. Only keep email in your sent folder that involve some type of action by the receiver.
    3. Keep only the latest version of a thread of emails to cut down on volume.
      1. Learn how to "View Messages by Conversation Thread" at
    4. Unsubscribe from newsletters, special offers and feeds that you don't read or act upon regularly.
      "Unsubscribe" links are almost always found at the very bottom of the email.
      1. Evaluate every email (Good, Better, Best)
        1. Does it add value?
          Why continue to clutter your inbox with email you never actually look at?
        2. Is it something I read, or routinely delete?
          If it's a list you intentionally subscribed to in the past, you can re-subscribe in the future should you find that you actually miss it.
        3. Is it so much noise, or something worth keeping?
          If it's an email list of company you've done business with or otherwise given your email address to, you can always return and do business with them by going to their web site.
      2. Don't unsubscribe from spam
        1. Spam is email you did not ask for.
        2. Spam is email from companies you've never done business with.
        3. Clicking on the "unsubscribe" link on spam emails only confirms to the spammer that they've found a live person in their mass mailings, and it will likely get you more spam, not less.
      3. On the flip side, never mark email that isn't spam as spam.
        1. Email from companies you do business with typically isn't spam. Often, as you go through the purchase process, you give them permission to add you to their list (sometimes inadvertently, by failing to uncheck a checkbox). This is not considered spam. Unsubscribe instead.
        2. Similarly, never mark email that you actually asked for as spam. For example, if you subscribe to my newsletter and later on you no longer want it, unsubscribe.In both cases, marking legitimate email as spam can actually harm the business and its customers, because email providers may use your actions to begin filtering this legitimate email as spam for others, who may not think it's spam at all.Don't unsubscribe from emails that give you value
  7. Last Resort: Email Bankruptcy
    1. This is the act of deleting all messages older than a certain date due to an overwhelming receipt of garbage messages or as a result of email hoarding. During the act of declaring email bankruptcy, a message is usually sent to all senders explaining the problem, that their message has been deleted, and that if their message still requires a response they should resend it.

Readers, what about you - do you keep a clean inbox? Share your tips for avoiding inbox clutter - or your email horror stories.

Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM Call us: (208) 496-9000