People are suffering from so much information overload, that it’s not unusual for them to have thousands of e-mails in their in-box.

Here are some tips on how to pare down and control some of that information weight sitting around on your computer.

Let it go! We never go back to 80-90% of the information we hang on to. When you see a message arrive in your in-box, the first thing you should do is ask yourself “What is the worst thing that will happen if I delete this message?” to help filter out unneeded information. For instance, if you’re just a CC’d person on the message, consider deleting it.

Become everyone’s new best friend by being careful about hitting Reply to All. If a co-worker is in charge of setting up a meeting, just reply to them with your availability rather than everyone included on the distribution list.

Remove the automatic notification alert for incoming messages; it will distract you off task. Instead, set defined times of the day when you’ll check and return messages.

When you send a message that is just an “fyi,” consider adding the text No Reply Needed (NRN) at the beginning of the subject line so people can resist the impulse to reply with “Great idea!” or “Thanks for sharing!” Once they get used to seeing this you might even be able to pare it down to just the NRN.

Make sure you’ve set up folders to move long-term messages so that you don’t leave old information sitting in your in-box.

If you’re waiting for a response from someone but don’t want to keep the original message in your in-box, create a folder that says “pending” or “follow up.” Then you can check that folder periodically rather than cluttering up your in-box.

If you need someone to get back to you with additional information, too often what you’re asking for gets lost in the body of your message. If you need a reply, and want it by a certain date, consider typing “Action:____” at the beginning of your message instead. Then, they see what you need right away, and you can include the background information after that so your request isn’t lost in the rest of the text.

If you can’t bear to take yourself off the e-mail list for your favorite stores, websites, and catalogs, set up a rule so that those messages are automatically sent into your folder labeled “Great Deals.” That way you don’t have them cluttering up your in-box every other day with new offers and special discounts. It’s simple to do: when you see a message come in, right click on it, click on the Create Rule option, then check the boxes that apply.

If junk mail enters your box that you don’t want anymore, right click on the message. then click on the Junk E-mail Option, then click on Add to Blocked Senders List.

Set a date on your calendar/planner every three months to go through your old messages and either delete them or archive them to keep your current folders manageable.

Author's Bio: 

Sheila Dingels is a professional organizer with experience in helping people save time and simplify their lives. Sheila works with clients on residential organizing, time management, and handling household papers. Her business has an eco-friendly focus by helping people reduce the amount of clutter in their lives, reuse items they already have in new and creative ways, and recycle items they no longer need.