As college students, our email inbox can pile up with emails that we don’t know whether to keep, delete, or archive. So we just leave them alone. More and more come in and they continue to pile up. We continue to not know what to do. Does that sound like you? Here’s what you can do to clean up your inbox and solve the problem:

Things You’ll Need

The most important thing that you’ll need to accomplish this task is time. You may have hundreds or thousands (hopefully not hundreds of thousands) of emails that you’ve accumulated since your freshman year. The amount of time that you’ll need to dedicate to this project varies, depending on how many emails you actually have. I would estimate around 3 hours just to be safe. You may even want to consider doing a couple of hundred a day.

The next thing you’ll need to do is create specific folders or categories for the emails that you decide to keep. For example:

  • Grad School
  • Scholarships
  • Pictures
  • Financial Aid
  • Online Shopping

You decide which folders to make; but the key is to decide this before you start filing the emails away.You don’t want to get stuck in the middle of filing and realize that you don’t have the right folders.

The last thing you’ll really need is a fully charged battery (unless you’re using a desktop computer). You don’t want your battery to die in the middle of the project either. Take your charger with you if you choose to go to the cafe or library to work on this project.

RelatedHack Tricks — Gmail

The Next Steps

Once all of your ducks are in a row and you’re ready to begin, don’t stop. Close out of all of your other tabs so that you don’t lose focus. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and even HackCollege can distract you from getting the job done. Remember: The longer you wait, the more your inbox will pile up.

Next, you need to decide which emails you really want to keep and which emails you really don’t need. A coupon that expired last September might not benefit you any longer. But an email from a professor telling you about some of your class assignments or how you can improve may help you farther down the road. That’s one you might consider keeping.

Once you decide to keep emails, you need to decide on where to put them. Some of them may double dip in different categories and that’s okay. You can put them in either folder or label them as both categories. Either way gets the job done.

Finishing Strong

Once you’ve gotten all of your emails filed away, you can sit back and pat yourself on the back. It’s time-consuming work; time that you could have spent writing a paper or working on a presentation. But it’s still time well spent. My words of advice from here on out: Don’t let your inbox become a permanent home for junk. When you get emails, read them and file them. You won’t ever have to do this project again. You’ll thank yourself for it later.


Image: Michael Coghlan