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Clear Your Inbox: The How to Clean Up Email Challenge

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How long has your inbox been cluttered? How many emails do you have in there that are months old and still unread? Is it time for a total email clean-up? If so, then this blog post is perfect for you. We will show you how to get your inbox cleared out with the Email Clean Up Challenge. Follow these steps to get started today!

This is the email challenge I use, and I use it often when I’ve let my inbox get to over a few thousand emails.

This is not a one-and-done challenge, because it doesn’t address the habit that gets us to an overwhelming number of emails sitting in our inbox.

This challenge can also be used for a smaller number of emails that you actually want to take action on and complete, but that would be a separate challenge from cleaning out your inbox.

Getting to inbox zero does not mean you’ve completed all actions required in those emails. But it could. Remember this is your challenge, it’s your game, your rules.

My rules for the email clean up challenge:

  1. Calculate total emails.
  2. Write the total number of emails in the first envelope.
  3. Divide total emails by 24, round that number up if it’s not a whole number. Subtract this number from the total emails and write the new number in the second envelope.
  4. Continue to subtract the number calculated in step 3 from each envelope to get the number of the next envelope, until you get to the last envelope which should be a negative number. Just write, Zero.
  5. Choose a reward for the middle and end of the challenge. Sometimes I do this and often I don’t. Often the reward of getting my shit together is enough to keep me motivated.
  6. Sort your email by the sender. Start deleting the easy ones. For example, you have a bunch of emails from stores. These can quickly add up to hundreds of emails.
  7. Color in each envelope as you hit the next number of emails.
  8. Take the allotted break time allowed between each envelope.
  9. When you get the middle reward… you get that reward.
  10. Continue cleaning your inbox by deleting, filing, or moving emails to an action folder to complete later.
  11. Once you cross the finish line you get your final reward.
printable for email clean up challenge

Clear You Inbox Reward Ideas:

  1. I hate using food as a reward, but it can be a pretty awesome, easy, convenient, motivating reward. It is my go-to reward for this challenge. Heavenly Hunks Organic Oatmeal Dark Chocolate~ OMG these are my favorites. Oreo cookies. Popcorn.
  2. Self-care: Epsom salt bubble bath, paint nails, dye hair, massage, go for a walk.
  3. Buy something: evening going out and buying something you were already going to buy can be motivating. Just the fact the brain knows that it will be bought.

Cleaning out your email tips:

Having the ability to sort mail by sender then scroll through the list and see large chunks of emails by sender is huge. I’ve tried so many times to clean out my inbox using gmail and always get very discouraged.

The breaks of course are optional. I find knowing that I can have a break after cleaning up a certain number of emails, helps remove the resistance to getting started. Once you are started, you may decide to skip breaks or combine breaks into larger ones.

Remember, if you are trying to get to inbox zero and you have a few thousand emails or more, now is not the time to read every email and action them. Now is the time to delete and file.

Create a read folder and an action folder, if you don’t already have them.

Remember this is your challenge. Print out the sheet and get started, that’s the hardest part.

You’ve got this.

Enjoy.

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