I have a confession to make. I am the worst at keeping my inbox organized. Seriously, I’m a mess. If not for the virtual assistant I had for many years, I would have never been able to find anything.

That being said, that assistant moved on and I’m in the process of bringing on a new one. This means I’m coming to terms with the fact that I need to do a better job at keeping my inbox organized. This has sent me on a quest to find some tips on how to do this. Here’s what I found.

Use Google Business Apps (Outlook works too)

In my experience, the email clients that come with web hosting are terrible. It’s no surprise then that every business owner I know uses Google Business apps. Some are more old school and use Outlook on their PCs. Either way, no one actually uses the email client from their web host.

I personally use Google Business Apps for my own business email. This allows me to use apps, make labels and keep me connected to just about every other business app I use.

Use third-party apps

One thing that helps me keep my email organized is the use of apps. At the very least, it helps me be more efficient. For example, I use Streak for Gmail which helps me save email templates I can later use. I also allows me to schedule out emails. Lastly, it comes with a basic CRM. I don’t currently use it, but I did when I was just starting out.

Boomerang is another popular app that allows you to do many of the same things. As for those who don’t use Gmail, there are plenty of other apps on the market that can cater to your needs.

Folders and filters are your friends

Here is where I fail miserably at keeping my inbox organized – folders and filters. I’m the type of person who handles email and then leaves it all in the primary inbox. This makes it a nightmare to find things.

However, lately I’m realizing I need to get better at this. For example, I receive a lot of pitches about financial studies and surveys. In the past, most of these pitches have been terrible, but lately they are pretty good. Lately, they are sending stuff I might actually be able to use.

Herein lies the problem: I completely forget about them when they are just hanging out in my primary inbox. This means I need to create a folder for them so I can find them when I need them (like when I’m writing pitches).

Instead of manually moving emails to folders, you can also set up filters so they go there automatically. I personally don’t really like this method because I’ll forget to look, but some people find it very helpful.

Don’t live in your inbox

The final step to keeping your inbox organized is to not live in your inbox. This may sound counterintuitive but it works. At the end of the day, email can be a huge time suck. This means you’re better off outsourcing everything except what you yourself must handle. This is my next step with my new assistant.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your inbox organized is possible if you follow these steps. If you’re a hopeless case like me, consider hiring an assistant to help you out. Even if they eventually move on, you at least have a system in place to get you through the transition.