My Inbox is Empty!

by JR Griggs

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cluttered-mailbox Every once in a while I get really frustrated with being unorganized. Those are the days that I go into ultra organization mode. Last night this happened with my email. It was getting out of hand and something had to be done.

I sort of went through this once before by creating filters for certain emails and having less in the inbox. It was not enough and I was looking at 300+ unread emails and hundreds just sitting in the inbox.

The other issue I was having was that some emails were slipping through the cracks and getting ignored because I forgot they were there. I would read it and maybe star it (useless that way) and hope to get to it later. This rarely happened and the inbox just grew.

New Labels

Being that I use Gmail, I knew the solution would be more labels. I already have several labels for different email addresses. Different areas, like politics, marketing etc.. I also have labels for all of my clients so I can easily pull up all of their emails.

But for some reason I was missing what I would call “productivity labels”. These are labels for actions that need to be taken with certain emails. Here is what I did and I am sure I will add more and fine tune it.

Needs Follow Up and To Do

The first 2 I created are “Needs Follow Up” and “To Do”. These may seem like they are the same but not in my brain. I am using the “Needs Follow Up” label for any emails that need a response or a file sent via email. So a request for information would be “Needs Follow Up”.

“To Do” is more for items that need work outside of email. So maybe creating an estimate or invoice, placing an order, appointment requests etc.. . Anything that is not done by hitting “reply” on the email. 

This allows me to get it out of the inbox and into a label that tells me exactly what I need to do with the email. Where as before it would sit in the inbox and get buried with other emails. The key here however is to now check those 2 labels every day and take action on the emails in there.

Chances are I will add more to that as needed. Like maybe a long term follow up or long term to do list. For the items that are not immediate but eventually I want to do something with them.


I am always learning and studying. I sign up for a lot of different mentors email lists and so I tend to get educational emails. When these come in I do not always have time to read them and do something with them. So again, they sit in the inbox and get buried so nothing happens.

Now I have a label called “Homework”. This label is for when I get an email or a video sent that is educational and helps me with my business. It goes into the “Homework” label and I can get to it later but at least I know what needs to be done with it.

I then use the “Multiple Inbox” addon in Gmail to see these labels as inboxes. So I see what is in them while looking at my email. I use the “Superstars” addon to make starring my emails more efficient. These allow you to color code the stars and add extra symbols to mark importance.

So last night I finally got my inbox to “Zero”! But most importantly I now have action plans for the emails that need action. I know friends that would joke about the thousands of emails they have in their inbox. The bottom line is that if you are not organized you are losing productivity.

I try to apply this to everything in my life. The more organized I am the more productive I am. Very rarely will I see someone who is successful also be unorganized.

If you have any other label ideas or email organization tips I would love to read them.

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