Top 5 Filters or Rules for an Organized Inbox
When you run a business, you spend a lot of time in your email inbox.
You’re communicating with clients, getting copies of invoices and receipts, receiving notifications from the programs you use, and so much more.
While it may drive you crazy to get so many emails, you also realize these are not the kinds of emails from which you can unsubscribe.
To cut down on interruptions and get control over an overcrowded inbox, I recommend setting up filters in Gmail or creating rules in Outlook or Apple Mail to automatically sort and organize your emails.
It’s like having a virtual assistant in your inbox who knows exactly what to do when certain types of messages are received.
To get you started, I’m going to share my top 5 filters or rules for keeping your inbox organized (and if you don’t know where to begin with creating filters or rules, I’ll give you some helpful links at the end of this blog post):
Save Receipts & Invoices
If you’re subscribed to any monthly or annual services, you probably receive an email each billing cycle with a copy of an invoice and/or a receipt. The more programs you subscribe to, the more emails you’ll receive.
To avoid the hassle of sorting through these emails, create a filter or rule so they skip your inbox, get marked as read, and are saved in an email folder of your choosing.
For instance, in Gmail, I set up a filter so that every time I receive an email from “email@example.com” with the subject line “Mailchimp Order,” the message is automatically marked as read and moved to my “Receipts” folder.
Repeat this process for each service or company you subscribe to and you’ll no longer have to sort through these emails again.
Separate Newsletters & Promotions
I try to limit the number of email lists I subscribe to, but there are some I enjoy receiving because they provide valuable content and help me stay on the cutting edge of my craft.
When I want to remain on an email list but don’t want to crowd my inbox, I set up a filter or rule to automatically move these emails into a separate folder.
For instance, I created a filter so emails from Zapier Updates and other business coaches I follow, skip my main inbox, remain unread, and get moved into my “News” folder.
Now, I don’t get distracted by catchy headlines popping up in my inbox, and I block out time a few times a week to review all the messages in that folder.
Segment by Client or Contractor
One of the first things I do when I start working with a new client or contractor is create a new folder for them in Gmail.
I also set up a filter so that anytime a message comes in from that client's email address, it is automatically labeled with their custom label while also remaining unread in my inbox.
This makes it easier to look up or reference emails for a particular client and saves me time sorting and organizing my inbox.
Currently, in Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, the only option is to organize email messages by folders, not labels.
In this case, you can create a rule so new emails from your clients remain unread and are automatically moved into their specific client folder. Be sure to check for unread messages on a regular basis so you don’t miss any important messages.
Separate CC’d Emails
If you get CC'd on a lot of emails, I suggest creating a folder called “CC’d Emails” and setting up a filter or rule so messages you’re CC’d on get automatically separated into this folder.
Of all the filters and rules I introduce to my clients, this is by far the favorite because it can significantly reduce the number of emails coming into your main inbox and the number of times you get pulled off task.
Since emails you’re CC’d on are typically less urgent than emails sent to you directly, you’ll likely only need to check that folder once or twice a day at a time that’s convenient for you.
Forward to a Team Member
Sometimes, you receive emails or notifications that you always want to share with a colleague or team member.
For instance, every time you get a notification that someone booked a new consultation, you forward the email to your virtual assistant so they can look up the company, perform an online search, and send you some notes.
Instead of manually forwarding the email, you can create a filter or rule so the notification emails from your booking system are automatically forwarded to your assistant.
Not only does this save you the work of forwarding the email, but your assistant no longer has to wait for you to forward the email to them. As soon as the message comes into your inbox, it’s forwarded to your assistant who can begin to work on it immediately.
For more tips on managing your inbox, check out my blog post, How to Avoid Email Inbox Overload.
And once you’ve mastered email filters and rules, you can save even more time by adding Zapier automations to eliminate other manual steps.
If you’d like to explore these options and see how Zapier can save you time and manual steps, schedule a free consultation to learn more about my services.