23 Absolutely Perfect Tips to Help You Reduce and Manage The Amount of Emails You Get

By Bill Acholla April 14, 2020

Email Management Plan

It was Monday, a month ago, when I sat down on my desk with the familiar sinking feeling in my tummy.

I have always dreaded Mondays—because I had to open my email inbox first thing in the morning.

I receive thirty to fifty emails a day. Just the thought of opening each one, reading them and responding to them, gives me a headache.

But it’s something I have to do—and for a good part of the day, I am glued to my computer.

Often, all other aspects of my work take a backseat to this task, leaving behind a pile of projects that I have to attend to, causing me to work overtime and miss dinner with my family.

I will never forget that day last month. It was when I was called in for a meeting that dragged on for the rest of the day and I wasn’t able to get back to reading and responding to my emails. That’s when I missed an important one—and it almost cost me my job.

It was an email from the Director calling us department heads for a very crucial meeting the next day.

I wasn’t able to see read email and the next day, it got lost under the next hundred emails I received.

Not only did I fail to send a response, I missed the important meeting and got reprimanded.

Why is email management important? It is for the reason I stated above and a whole lot more. Missing important announcements, schedules and information can cost you.

Missed emails can mean lost sales or missed opportunities to respond or give feedback.

On the contrary, being able to read emails promptly will give you the opportunity to give a speedy response.

A Simple Case Study: United Airlines

Do you remember what happened with United Airlines early this year?

United Airlines President Scott Kirby announced a critical change in their incentive programs via an email memo: the employee bonus program was being replaced with a lottery system.

This amounts to effectively slashing the quarterly bonuses of performing employees who hit their targets for the year.

Naturally, the change was not well-received and received quite a backlash. Here are some of the comments:

You may be thinking, “What has this incident got to do with email management?” A lot, actually. Because Scott Kirby utilized the power of email to set things right.

Thousands of United Airlines employees posted negative comments on their website and someone sent a copy of these comments to the President on email. Three days later, he issued a new memo in response:

Eventually, the change was scrapped and the existing bonus program was retained. Scott is lauded for his leadership. He stopped, listened, and took corrective action. But the email was key.

If the email got buried under all other emails, there would be no second memo. It is important to note that if Scott missed that crucial email informing him of the complaints and negative feedback of the employees, there would be no leadership lesson at all.

My point is: If my email box were full of subscriptions and other non-important stuff, how would I be able to access the important ones and respond properly? Hence, the importance of proper email management.

You’ve Got Mail!

Today, email has become the most popular form of communication for work and for commerce.

Almost everyone gets hundreds of emails, ranging from emails from bosses and colleagues to sales pitches, newsletters, and promotional mail.

Many people spend about a quarter to half of their day sitting in front of their computer and managing their email accounts.

When you think about it, simply spending a minimum of two and a half hours reading and responding to emails on a daily basis amounts to a total of 27 days a year! That’s almost a month!

A lot of studies have shown that emailing does not make people any more productive.

In fact, people communicate less effectively and even waste time with an overload of information. Fortunately, there are many email management software available today.

Now, you don’t necessarily have to be a member of the Inbox Zero cult immediately. Understandably, it is not easy to go from a hundred unread emails to zero in a day, but with some time and practice, it is possible to develop the habit of good email management.

Having and maintaining clean inbox takes a bit of organization and sticking to the habit.

Remember, if you don’t unclutter that inbox and take out the unnecessary items, there will be stuff that you won’t notice and there will be needless stuff that will eat up your time.

A clean inbox leads to greater productivity and less stress.

Here’s a compilation of 23 absolutely perfect tips that will help you reduce and manage the amount of email you get on a daily basis.

1. Respond to messages immediately

Remember Scott of United Airlines?

He sent an emphatic response three days after receiving the feedback from his unhappy employees.

He is lauded for showing empathy, for seeing the point of view of others in light of what he proposed and for adjusting accordingly.

But more than the quality of the response is its timing. He sent a second email to address the issue as soon as he could. This showed that he valued his employees and what they had to say.

Similarly, there are email correspondences that require your immediate attention and action. While there are those people who won’t acknowledge receiving an email, you should be the one that does.

Whenever you receive an email, it is smart to let people know that you got their message. You can send a quick reply such as “Noted”, “Ok”, “Great”, “Got it”, “Will do”, or “Thanks”.

Responding immediately is the best way to let the sender know that you value his time and acknowledge his message.

It shows courtesy. Don’t leave people hanging or thinking that you haven’t even read their message, especially if it is important and requires a response.

If it is an email that requires you to send a long response or something that contains large amounts of information, you can send a quick, simple acknowledgment of “Will get back to you regarding this”. This shows you are polite and respectful, not arrogant and rude.

Another reason why you should respond immediately is that the action shows that you’re reliable. Being responsive shows you are prompt and that you mean business.

Sending immediate replies also keeps the ball rolling. Instead of waiting, you become proactive and you create a personal accountability.

When you say something via email response, even if it is just a two-word note, you will be bound do whatever you said you would.

Remember that you don’t have to make long email responses. A simple “Understood” or “OK” may be enough.

It can even buy you time, if you need to think about or work out your longer reply.

At the very least, the sender will not feel that you are completely disregarding his email and will relax knowing you are working on getting something done.

Other email acknowledgments you can use, depending on the situation, include:

“I will get back to you in (appropriate time frame)”

“I will run that by a colleague who is currently out at the moment”

“I am just pushing a deadline and will give you an answer by (time frame).”

These are good when you don’t want the sender to pressure you while you can’t expedite a reply at the moment.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to reply to ALL the emails you receive, such as SPAM, group notes, or notifications that don’t require any replies. Use your judgment when it comes to emails like these.

Responding to emails immediately will help you achieve a clean inbox in no time.

A good example of an entrepreneur who responds to messages immediately is Larry Kim founder of Mobilemonkey.com.

He tries to make email more usable by responding to messages immediately whenever possible, and using flags to mark things that need follow-up, and to be honest, we’re all emailed out.

And that’s why he thinks Facebook Messenger and chatbots are the future of marketing and communication.

2. Use flags to mark things that need follow-up

Managing an email inbox is not easy. With a lot of things to read through and respond to, there is bound to be something that you will miss.

When you flag emails, you are able to keep track of important actions and the related responses to messages that you sent. Flagging both sent and received emails a good way to follow-up on action items.

In order to flag emails, you have to right-click the flag column or icon, then select the mark-up.

It is advisable to select the “Custom” option so that you can change the wording of the categories.

Instead of simply “Follow Up”, you can customize the action to a more detailed one.

By flagging emails, you have the ability to put a start date and due date to the flagged item.

You can set reminders and get a message pop-ups at the right time. You will be able to determine emails that are flagged yet past their due dates.

You can make as many categories as you need. Flagging is a good way to organize your emails, find the most important ones easily and deal with them and even schedule your work calendar.

3. Use free tools to reduce and manage your Gmail inbox

You can expand the capabilities of your Gmail inbox by using add-ons.

These free Gmail tools can help with task management, email tracking, contact management, security, inbox management, message composition and other miscellaneous items.

They can save you hours of extra work.

You can stay on top of your Gmail inbox and integrate task management. You can improve email security or track what happens to your email after you send it.

Here are a few of the Gmail plug-ins that are tools for managing emails. Use them depending on your need or preference.

  • Bananatag. This helps you track emails and lets you know whether it was received, opened, and when links have been clicked. You don’t have to wonder if your client or colleague received your email and you don’t have to make unnecessary follow-ups, because you will receive a notification.
  • CC. This helps you follow up on messages and even schedule reminders. You can use this so you won’t lose track of your contact or project.
  • Google Calendar. You can set up reminders, meetings, follow-ups using the calendar. This is helpful when you deal with colleagues or clients regularly. This saves you a lot of time going back and forth with emails.
  • Yesware. This plugin includes reminders, mail merge, and click-to-call so that responses can be tracked.
  • BatchedInbox. Helps you declutter your inbox so you will be able to find whatever you need easily. It helps you receive emails in batches on schedule. You don’t have to be disturbed by email notifications throughout the day and you are free to focus on other tasks.

In fact Janice Wald owner of Mostlyblogging.com uses free tools to reduce and manage her Gmail inbox.

Here’s what she told me when i reached out to her:

Free tools enable me to reduce and manage my Gmail inbox.

I am a huge fan of Unroll.me.

It comes daily. It enables you to “roll up,” “unsubscribe” or keep messages in your inbox.

The ability to unsubscribe right from the email Unroll.me sends you is huge.

I don’t have to wait to for an email to come in order to click “unsubscribe.”

Also, I won’t feel overwhelmed if all the emails come in simultaneously like they can with the “roll up” feature. I won’t feel inundated since I can spend the rest of the day sorting through the emails from the day before. I’m not bombarded throughout the day if they all come in at once.

More information about Unroll.me and other free tools to make your life easier when it comes to email clutter can be found here.

I’ve also just begun using a free tool named Astro.

Astro is a virtual robot secretary. Astro uses AI to learn which email senders are important to me and gives me a special notification when those people email me.

4. Block emails that don’t have your name

Emails make sending and receiving information easy and convenient, but it also opens doors for spam.

You can be bombarded with an email overload that you don’t like or didn’t sign up for in the first place.

If an email does not have your name, chances are it’s a mass email. You don’t need it and you don’t want it. If this is the case, you can block or unsubscribe from such emails.

When you block an email address or a sender, even if they send future messages, they will simply go to the Spam Folder.

Sam Hurley founder of Optim-eyez.co.uk recommends that;

  • If you receive templated emails that don’t even have your name at the top, non-relevant emails, and/or emails from businesses you never subscribed to — simply block them! Be ruthless (I’ve learnt this the hard way). Don’t bother wasting your energy replying to those who didn’t take the time to consider your time.
  • Unsubscribe from 90% of the businesses you have subscribed to. This will save you more time than you may first think.
  • Apply tools like SaneBox to intelligently manage your inbox on autopliot!

5. Unsubscribe from 90% of the newsletters you have subscribed to

One of the best practices for managing an email inbox is to unsubscribe.

When you sign up on a business website or blog, they usually send newsletters, updates, or promotions.

You may think that these emails about deals and sales can help. But what they mostly do is quickly clutter up your inbox.

It will take a long time and a lot of effort to delete these unwanted emails en masse. It is best to stop receiving said emails from the source.

There is an unsubscribe link that will allow you to unsubscribe from these mass emails—click it.

6. Use SaneLater

SaneLater is an email management software that will make your life so much easier. It will work with any email service that you are currently using so it won’t be too hard to use.

You will get a SaneBox and the unimportant and no longer important files will automatically be moved to a designated folder.

It’s an accurate software that will take the job out of your hands, giving you more time to do the real important things.

In Jay Baer words:

I love Sane Later which automatically files non-essential emails.

7. Disregard out of the blue pitches

You need to train yourself to use your email appropriately. For instance, if it is a work email then use it for work-related correspondence. Don’t use it for personal subscriptions.

On the other hand, if it is a personal email, train yourself not to click on everything you see. You are not obliged to read everything that is sent to your inbox.

Disregard those pitches, especially if it’s something that you have not subscribed to in the beginning.

Your contact details have been obtained by spammers and bots online, and that is the reason you’re receiving these messages out of the blue.

Once you click and read them, you will be receiving more in the future.

I reached out to David Leonhardt founder of Thgmwriters.com and here’s what he told me;

The hard part was learning (or teaching myself?) that I don’t have to answer every email I get. As a Canadian, I learn through my environment to be polite.

But with the tons of emails thrown at me every day, that can be costly. So I ignore all those out-of-the-blue guest post pitches or people who want me to write their school papers.

When I open up emails, I start by doing triage. 100 or 200 emails is too much to even think of dealing with. So, the first thing I do is go DELETE CRAZY!.

That’s right – delete, delete, delete, DELETE!  If I don’t want to deal with the email, I delete it. Often I resort my emails according to the “To” column. Any that are addressed to nobody or to strange people can easily be deleted.

One trick, if you have to sign up for things that you don’t want email from, is use a pseudonym. For instance, if your name is David, use the name Boris.

If you end up on a whole bunch of non-requested email lists, it’s then easy to just delete all emails addressed to Boris. To a small degree, that helps me (small, because I usually just use my real name).

After abusing my Delete button, and can actually see what’s left, I deal with anything truly urgent.

Then I deal within whatever looks quick and easy.

I am usually left with a few emails that I need to deal with and might take some effort.

Honestly, the best way to deal with them is with a snack.  A snack and a few minutes of focused attention, and emails are taken care of.

8. Delete non-requested email lists

In some organizations, mailing lists can be requested for official correspondence.

Use the contact list management from your email service to manage your lists.

If you wish to be removed from an email list that you have not requested, then remove the list.

You can request to be deleted from any and all mailing lists when you don’t like unsolicited mail.

However, sometimes, you will still receive mail from other commercial companies and charitable organizations that don’t adhere to best practices.

9. Create filters in Gmail

You can make your own rules when it comes to managing your email inbox. Gmail filters can manage incoming mail and send them to archive, delete, label, star or an automatic forwarding.

Here’s how to create a Gmail filter:

  • Open your Gmail account.
  • Go to the search box and click DOWN ARROW.
  • Enter a search criteria on a category of email you wish to select.
  • At the lowermost part of the search window, click on CREATE FILTER.
  • Then select what you want the Filter to do.
  • Finally, click CREATE FILTER.

Your emails will then be filtered accordingly. If you choose FORWARD MESSAGES, however, only the new incoming messages will be affected.

10. Put off notifications from social media platforms

Sure you want to be informed as soon as someone likes your post, makes a comment, or tags you.

But having these social media notifications in your email inbox can easily crowd it out.

Save yourself the hassle. Turn on your notifications on your social media platform themselves—you don’t have to receive the same information on your email.

Mike Allton founder of Thesocialmediahat.com explains that one of the biggest sources of email that’s confronted him in recent years are social platforms.

Every social network offers the option to send you notifications. Notifications of new connections. Notifications of comments and replies. Notifications of live videos and birthdays and pokes.

But do we need all of those notifications? More specifically, do we need them all to be emailed?

It takes a few minutes, but Mike finds it to be extremely worthwhile to go through every social network’s settings and consider the importance of each notification. Most of them do not need to be delivered via email, if at all.

He doesn’t need a notification for every liked tweet.

However, he likes to get emails when he receive a direct message on his most important platform.

Currently that’s Facebook, but it has changed over the years. Mike know though that if someone’s sending him a private message, it’s probably important.

What’s more, he knows that if he view that message on the platform, the platform’s native notification will go away and he will lose his visual reminder that the message was sent.

That’s OK if it’s just a conversation, but sometimes those messages are requests for quotes or for help of some kind. In those cases, it’s worthwhile to have that email that doesn’t go away until you file or delete it.

He wrote at length on this topic and walked through how to find the notifications for the more prominent social networks here.

Just go through the social networks that you currently use and turn off all but the most important email notifications, and you’ll see a dramatic reduction in volume!

11. Unsubscribe from any mailing lists that people put you on

Sometimes, people you on their mailing list for something important. But often, future messages have nothing to do with you anymore.

You need to unsubscribe from these mailing lists so your inbox won’t be cluttered.

Don’t allow people to put you on subscription lists as well. Email automation is important but so is email security.

Bots and scammers get your data through different public pages such as a personal webpage, social media profiles, or subscriptions.

Here’s an extra tip: If you still want to continue your email subscriptions because you like newsletter ideas, you can avoid spamming your primary email by setting up a secondary one.

You can also write your email primary address via longhand, when you have to display it on a public webpage.

For example: Jane Doe at Yahoo’s email service. This is a good way to avoid bots from collecting your data online.

Email marketers are more aggressive in collecting data and they use all means possible.

You can avoid tracking pixels by avoiding opening spam messages and turning off images.

Lisa Collier Cool takes a more direct approach. She unsubscribe to any mailing lists that people put her on and use a special email address when she place online orders so all the spam goes to that address, which she never check unless there’s an issue with an order.

12. Use a special email address when placing online orders so all the spam goes to that address

Online shopping cannot be helped and you need an email address for it.

To avoid getting all the newsletters and promotion emails from the shops and other commercial establishments you buy from, create a separate personal email that you can use for your transactions.

This way, all the confirmations, notifications and other spam mail will go to it and not fill your inbox. This is also a good tip for data privacy and security.

13. Delete freely

The value of unsubscribing has been mentioned earlier. Sometimes, even if you unsubscribe from something, you will still receive unsolicited mail and you will have to spend time to address this.

Delete freely—do not worry about missing anything important. If it were that important, it wouldn’t be placed under spam mail in the first place.

Here’s a good example from Lee Odden CEO & Co-Founder of Toprankmarketing.com of what to do: Unsubscribe often and delete liberally what doesn’t create value for you. Also, use Slack.

14. Use Slack

Usually staff write email to manager regarding updates. However, this form of communication can often cause an influx of messages that can flood the mail inbox.

To be more effective, it is best to use Slack.  It is a multi-platform messaging app that can be used in place of emails.

Teams will be able to send messages to each other using Slack. They can communicate, collaborate, and brainstorm for projects and new ideas. Follow-up can also be done through this app.

It makes more sense to use Slack than internal email because you don’t end up mixing internal and external correspondence in an email inbox.

You have focus with all the details regarding a particular project, and you will be more productive.

15. Don’t check your email all day long

Don’t be a slave to your email inbox. Learn to dedicate a time during the day to check your emails. You will be more productive this way because you have focus.

As with handling a regular meeting or a project, you should block out a time in your day where you can check your emails and answer them without interruption.

While you are at it, make sure to turn off other notifications and close other documents or tabs that can distract you.

During the day, you may have the urge to run to your computer and check your email. Turn the notification off so you won’t be bothered with the constant pinging.

16. Open your emails twice a day and that’s enough

Some people open their emails five times a day: in the morning, mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon, late afternoon. When you do this, managing an email inbox becomes a ball and chain.

Simply set aside two times to check your email, once in the morning and another time in the afternoon.

What you get in the morning, you can respond to and think about during the day.

What you get in the afternoon, can be for information and action for the next day.

From Georgi Todorov founder of Digitalnovas.com:

Don’t check your email all day long. I open my emails twice a day and that’s enough.

Once in the morning and once at the end of the day.

Actually, in the morning I just check it out but I don’t answer any emails.

I feel the need to open it just to have a look at the new emails in my inbox and to see that there is nothing urgent. It gives me a calm start of my day.

Another tip I’d like to give is to organize an inbox with labels, folders and categories

It really makes life easier.

17. Organize your inbox with labels, folders, and categories

This is one of the best tips for managing an email inbox—organization. Avoid getting messy by using the tools available with your email service.

You can optimize your email inbox by using folders, labels, and categories. When they are organized, you can give proper attention to your emails.

You will be able to identify which are relevant, which you can immediately solve or shelf, and how much time you need for the proper action.

Labels can be “Follow Up”, “Pay”, “Work”, “Friends”, “For Reading”, etc. Usual email folders include Inbox, Sent, Junk, Archive, etc. You can create your own depending on your need and to make things simpler.

After you categorize your emails properly, you will not have much of a problem organizing future emails.

18. Only sign up to receive emails you absolutely want to receive

Again, you don’t need to know everything.

Often, when you purchase something, read a blog, visit a website, or claim a gift or benefit, there is an option to subscribe to the site for updates and promotions. You have the option not to receive future emails or notifications.

If you don’t want to miss an update, then subscribe. If you feel that it will clutter your email inbox, then it is best not to sign up. Do it for your peace of mind.

19. Use Unroll.Me

Unroll.Me is a Gmail plugin that you can use to clean up your email inbox. You can aggregate all your favorite subscriptions into one message.

While there are other email management software that can delete all your subscriptions, you may not want to miss out on some notifications.

Unroll.Me works differently—it combines all of your subscriptions and you receive only one email. You can also unsubscribe via Unroll.Me for subscriptions you don’t like.

The best thing about Unroll.Me is that it’s free!

When I asked Keri Jaehnig founder of Ideagirlmedia.com for her best email management advice, here’s what she told me:

Only sign up to receive emails you absolutely want to receive.  And, as your needs change, don’t be afraid to hit “unsubscribe.”

For contests, research, and similar where I know I’ll probably receive a lot of frivolous emails, I have an email address I use that keeps the spam from my main email address, but lets me accomplish my goals.

Some have used a tool called UnrollMe, and they have been happy.  It unsubscribes you from email lists that may not be a good fit anymore and supposedly keeps your email box more friendly. I haven’t done this yet, because I feel like I want customized control over what I receive … and don’t.

20. Filter your email aggressively

It’s your inbox and you have full control over it. You can create rules to filter what goes in your inbox.

Manage incoming mail by using filters. You can automatically send incoming emails to labels, archives, starred, or delete folders.

You can also modify the level of protection of your Junk folder to delete nuisance emails. The default setting is No Automatic Filtering.

Make sure to set it to a high protection level so you can aggressively catch spam or junk messages.

I reached to Karla Renee Content Marketing Manager at LucidPress.com, and she shared her four tips on managing emails:

  1. Filter aggressively. If you work in an office, there are likely a number of repeated emails that go out to everyone. You probably don’t need to read every single one, so why not set up some filters?  For example, our sales team sends out a mass email each time they close a deal, and it uses the same subject line every time.  And while I’m proud of them, I really don’t need to read about everyone.  So, I set up a filter to automatically archive emails with that subject line.  One step closer to Inbox Zero!
  2. Use tools like Unroll Me. In an ideal world, when you receive an email you don’t want, you have the option to unsubscribe. But for some reason, many brands don’t seem to get the memo.  For those pesky emails that just won’t quit, you can use a service like Unroll Me to quietly filter them out before you even see them.  Pro tip: Make sure you understand how these services work (terms, privacy, etc.) before opting in.
  3. Give people guidelines for emailing you. If you give people the option to contact you on your site, set the right expectations for them by providing a few helpful guidelines. What kinds of inquiries are you open to?  When should they expect a reply?  Should they use a particular subject line?  The easier you can make it for them to follow your guidelines, the better their emails will be.  It will save you and them both a lot of time.  (Here’s an example of how I do that at Lucidpress!)
  4. Set aside a particular day to answer emails. If email is cutting into your most productive hours, rethink how often you check your inbox. Could you set aside a particular day of your work week to answer them?  Most of us still need to check our email every day, but you can take care of high-priority items first and save low-priority items for later.  For example, I check my email every day for work announcements, but I save guest blog pitches in a special folder that I clear out once or twice a week.

21. Give people guidelines for emailing you

A lot of people don’t know how to use email properly and it can have serious consequences.

For instance, if you receive a message with no subject line, you will automatically think it is spam mail and delete it. But it could actually be an important message!

To avoid such a circumstance, you can give guidelines on how people can email you. Here are a few:

  • Use a clear and straightforward subject line: You will naturally decide whether or not to read an email based on the subject line. Good subject lines include “Follow-Up on your Proposal”, “Change in Schedule of Meeting”, “Question about your Project”, etc.
  • Always use your professional or corporate email address: If it is work-related, the correspondence should come from the company email address. Personal email addresses should be for personal emails.
  • Don’t just click “Reply All”: You can’t simply ignore emails, especially when it comes from company email addresses. But it is such a bother when you have nothing to do with the email thread and you are just copied in because someone clicked Reply All.

22. Set aside a particular day to answer emails

If you don’t work for sales, customer service, marketing and the like where you don’t have to answer emails every day, it is important to set a day when you can answer emails.

Usually, people go for Mondays because it is the beginning of the week. Other people take the middle of the week to send replies to most emails.

There is no particular day that is the right day to answer emails—it all depends on the nature of your work or business.

23. Hire a virtual assistant to manage your email

If you have an overflowing email inbox, or you need to manage more than one email address, it may be time to hire a virtual assistant to do the job for you.

It takes a lot of time to read through and answer emails—time that you could have spent managing your business and making it grow.

You don’t have to miss an important email or read through a spam mail anymore.

You will be notified of crucial and urgent emails that need your personal attention. The unnecessary ones will be deleted or archived for future reading.

It is up to you how to delegate. There can be emails which the VA can reply in his own name as your assistant. You can also draft and approve templates that the VA can use as responses.


The importance of email management cannot be stated enough. But at the end of the day, the best practices for managing an email inbox will be dependent on finding a system that is suitable for you.

Use the things you have learned from this article and apply them to your situation. Remember, being able to access the needed information quickly should be your goal.

Let me know what works for you! And if there are tips that you use that were not included here, do share them in the comments. Here’s to an empty inbox and full productivity!


  1. Janice Wald says

    Hi Bill,
    Your post is amazing. I love the United Airlines connection. Thanks for including me. Tweeted!

  2. winsolutionscorp says

    Great read. There’s a real demand from entrepreneurs who want to get rid of information overload and manage their time better.

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