Konmari your email inbox

Published on 23 juni 2021

Since the world is working from home en masse, we are overloaded with emails more than ever. Now that research shows that 20% never want to go to the office at all and 70% at most 1 day a week, we would like to give you some tips. The cause is simple, where you used to give each other a small assignment in the coffee corner, this is now usually done via email.

I've always thought of e-mail as a kind of Lerna's Hydra, each severed head growing back in twos. No matter how quickly you process, answer and delete the email, it only gets more. Then put everything in folders, treat 1 folder for today, 1 folder for this week and 1 folder as an archive ... yes that will certainly work. Only to find out that this has made the chaos in your mailbox even bigger. 

And all this and more has been my personal experience with email, I know I'm certainly not alone in this matter. Especially given that there is data showing that the average office worker spends about 28% of his work week on spends email. And that is absolutely absurd.

So today I want to share some tips and tactics I've learned lately to make email a less stressful and less time-consuming part of my life. Now I have to say this up front, I am by no means an email expert. And I know you can probably find other productivity gurus with crazy Inbox Zero workflows to finish each morning at 6am before doing their morning yoga or coffee meditation. But at least I managed to tame my email. So whether you're a college student or a professional buried in emails from your boss, hopefully some of these tips will help you tame your inbox.


The base

Don't treat your inbox like an archive. Archive messages or delete them when you no longer need them.

Don't use your inbox as a task manager. And this is crucial. But I know it's also very hard to do because many of us do this often, we see emails in our inboxes, we know we need to respond to them. But to respond to it, we have to do 18 different things.

Furthermore, it's a pretty smart idea to spend a specific time of day processing email.

Konmari your work email inbox

The KonMari method consists of two steps. Discard and store. "Does it spark joy?" is the first question you ask yourself in everything. If so, you can keep it — provided you clean it up properly, of course. — if not, throw it away immediately.

Of course I'll add an exception here for work or important emails that you "must" keep or answer. Otherwise most of us would simply throw away all work email every day under the heading "doesn't spark joy" haha. For work situations I would therefore rather split it into 2 steps:


Step 1: "Is this important and should I do something about it?" 

If so, you can keep it and we'll go to step 2.

If not, throw it away immediately because then it is probably spam, advertising or one of the many useless emails.

Step 2: "Can I answer, run or solve this in 5 minutes?" 

If so, you will immediately answer this email or perform the task. 

If not, create a task in your task manager software such as paymo , asana, wrike or monday. You put the entire email in here and remove the email from your inbox.

Turn off notifications

And unless email notifications are incredibly important to you, like if you're Elon Musk or something, get those notifications off your phone, dedicate part of the day to email, and let the rest of it spend on your work or you know things you want to do.


Whatever you do, unless you go all the way down from a newsletter and click that unsubscribe link, the emails keep coming in. So start by unsubscribing from marketing messages and newsletters that no longer give you any value. And yes, that also applies to our newsletter if you don't get any value from the emails we send you.

Archive or delete?

Many people get stuck on whether to archive or delete their emails. And frankly, this is quite a moot point these days, as most email programs give you a ton of space for storing emails, but I'm following a simple general rule.

If I think I'll ever need that email information in the future, I'll archive it. Otherwise I'll delete them. They are probably mainly newsletters or marketing messages.