Home Communication One Big Tip for Decluttering Your Inbox

One Big Tip for Decluttering Your Inbox

by Dr. Bruce Ellis
tidy up inbox feature image

If you’re like me, you have emails you’ve subscribed to (or been subscribed to) cluttering your inbox daily. Wouldn’t it be great to declutter your inbox without deleting or unsubscribing to those emails? Well lucky for you, there’s a trick that can help. Though I’ll be giving directions for Gmail, you can accomplish the same trick in other email clients. Just follow these steps.

Creating an Unsubscribe Filter

Step 1: Begin by searching for “unsubscribe” in your email search bar. This will bring up all the emails that have the word unsubscribe somewhere in them. Be aware that this will also catch emails from folks that use the word unsubscribe as part of the conversation or if someone forwards an email to you and the forwarded email contains the word unsubscribe.

Step 2: Click on the Show Search Options icon on the right-hand side of the email search bar. (This icon reminds me of sliders on a sound mixer.)

Image of search box
Screenshot by author

This will open the advanced search form for Gmail. The only thing on this form will be “unsubscribe” in the “Has the words” field.

Step 3: Click on Create filter in the bottom right corner.

Image of advanced search box
Screenshot by author

Step 4: Decide how you’d like to filter these emails. In the filter settings dialog box. you will have the opportunity to decide what you want to do with the “those” emails as they come in. After you tick the boxes, be sure to click the Create filter button. I show my suggestions in the image below.

Image of  filter options when searching
Screenshot by author
  • Skip the Inbox (Archive it). This allows you to easily access the emails at your convenience but removes them from your inbox, so it is less cluttered.
  • Mark as read. This will also help move these emails out of sight (until you have time to look at them) by reducing the number of unread emails in your inbox.
  • Apply the label: _______. Initially, you’ll need to click on the Choose label dropdown box and select Create label. Create a new label named Unsubscribe, as I have. This will permit you to access these emails by clicking the Unsubscribe label in your mail menu.
  • Also apply filter to matching conversations. This feature will automatically apply the label to any email that fits the criteria and place them under that label in your mail menu.

Reviewing Filtered Emails

I recommend that you review the filtered emails at least once a week if not several times a week. I have had instances in which a peer, acquaintance, or boss forwarded an informative email to me, but it got caught by the filter and was detoured from my indox. Periodically checking will help prevent potentially overlooking important emails. To view the labeled emails, you will need to reveal the Gmail main menu by clicking on the icon with the three bars (top left of the Gmail window). Scroll down and click on the Unsubscribe label. All emails that have had the label applied will appear.

Screenshot of navigational menu in Gmail
Screenshot by author

Watch the Process

Below is a short video tutorial to help walk you through the steps.

Video by author

I look forward to hearing about how you were able to declutter your inbox and hopefully reach inbox zero without losing any emails that you may want to refer back to. If you created this filter, jump into the comments and let us know a benefit. I’d love to hear from you.

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