Nail inbox zero: Six ways to take control of your overloaded inbox before 2017

Emma Haslett
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It's time to take control (Source: Getty)

Christmas is over, New Year looms: it's that strange, limbo-like time of the year most people spend quietly coming up with new ways to serve leftover turkey.

But you can also spend it preparing to hit the ground running next year, by giving your email inbox the TLC it deserves - so you don't get that sinking feeling when you get back to the office.

Read more: Speedmailing: Control your email, don't let it control you

1. Delete

Tired of getting the warning about your inbox almost being full? Put your feet up, put the telly on, get out your laptop and go as far back as it will take you - then delete. To get ahead, you can search for emails over, for example, 10MB, and delete those first. Don't forget to save important contacts, though.

2. Unsubscribe

Do you really need the Net-a-Porter newsletter every day? Can you honestly say you have actually opened that weekly email from your local florist? Unsubscribe from as many emails as you can. To see what you are subscribed to and delete them, use a tool such as the eminently handy (although it does have a limit to the number of services it will help you ditch).

3. Get orderly

We all have those emails which languish at the bottom of our inboxes as we try to figure out a way to deal with them.

Most email services allow you to order your emails so the unread ones are at the top. Select that setting, then mark emails you haven't dealt with as "unread" to make sure they're always at the top of your inbox (and at the front of your mind).

4. Label and categorise

Create categories or labels for each project you're working on, then make sure you categorise each message as it comes in to make it easier to find emails when you need them. If you know certain senders or subject lines will be associated with specific projects, set rules so they are automatically labelled.

5. Smash those templates

Do you find yourself writing the same email over and over as people come to you with the same enquiry? Spend half an hour creating templates of responses, which you can customise with a name and a short message at the end.

6. Filters to rule them all

Sharon from HR may bring in cake every day, but her generous emails - and the lengthy "banter" chains that ensue - are clogging up your inbox. Create rules or filters which automatically delete or archive emails from certain senders, or with certain words in the subject line, to avoid those pointless chains. And to be blissfully unaware of office cake as you enter January...

Now read: The unbearable overload of inboxes: A new way after-work emailing is killing your productivity

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