How to Organize Your Inbox

Post by Suzanne Raouf


How often do you log into your Gmail and see “Inbox (41)” or maybe its more like “Inbox (1947)”? Organization (of any kind) can be daunting, but it can be simple if you know how to utilize the tools Gmail offers. I use three features to keep my inbox organized:


Step 1: Labels


Use labels to track the messages you receive that revolve around a certain theme. In college, I had labels for all of my classes, so if I was looking for a particular email, I could use the labels to ease my search. Each label you set up acts as a folder so if you archive a message that is labeled, you can find it in that label. Simple, right?


How do you make labels? On the left hand side of your screen under your Inbox, you’ll see a drop down menu. Click the drop down and then click on “Create new label.” The next screen will take you to name the label and the option to nest under a previously existing label.




Step 2: Filters


Filters are helpful for sorting specific messages before they reach your inbox. For example, I have a filter set up so that when I get an email notification from a social network, it skips my inbox and gets sent to a specific folder. This way, these unimportant emails don’t cloud my inbox. You can set up filters by a variety of indicators including keywords, subject or sender.


How to set up filters? Simple. Just click on “Create a filter,” right next to the search bar at the top of your Gmail screen. Follow the instructions to create filters to your liking!




Step 3: Archiving


This is my favorite way to sort through a messy inbox. After I read the emails that come to my inbox, I either archive it or let it sit in my inbox. The only time I keep an email in my inbox is when it still needs attention. Whether I need to respond or it is used as a reminder to book a flight or use a Groupon, seeing the email in my inbox helps remind me what needs to be done.


Archiving is super easy. Select the email and then click archive, or press archive while the message is open.



There is no excuse to let your emails pile up, so get to it and get organizing! Did I miss anything? What are your favorite ways to keep your inbox tidy?


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26 Responses

  1. lisa

    I usually do a first pass-through and delete all emails that are junk or irrelevant. Then I star all the ones that I need to read closely or reply to (press reviews that I want to read, events requiring an RSVP, personal messages, etc.). When I have a solid half hour or so, I work through the starred items and reply to each one. So far this system seems to be working. 🙂

  2. Laura

    I am a little TOO good at organizing my emails, I have an overboard amount of different labels, the brilliance of gmail is that it allows you to give each label it’s own pretty color, makes your inbox much brighter!

    • Slow Southern Style

      I’m obsessed with a clean inbox as well. I’ve got sub-labels under my labels! I check my e-mail several times a day and I’ll take myself off a mailing list if I find that I always just delete an e-mail without opening it up.

  3. Lisa

    Hi Suzanne,

    great post. I used filtering and archiving with filters but not labels untill today.
    But i will give it a try now.

  4. hannamay

    You have a great post here, your tip is very well written, and we can clearly understand..

  5. hf

    I have tried archiving and the emails disappear, haha! No really, I go to retrieve them from the archive and they are not there. So, I have turned to just using labels. How do you access the archived emails?

    • Jules

      HF – I believe once it is archived the only way you can find it is to search for it using the search bar up top. I don’t think there is a way to show all archived items. I could be wrong though, but this is how I find my archived items!

  6. Kristina

    I organized my hotmail account the same way some month ago, and it’s very easy and really worth the time you taking for it! Everyday life is easier with an organized inBox, trust me 🙂

  7. brodie

    I’m in the middle of doing a mass-organize of my inbox right now! I do the initial skim+delete, mark those as “read” that I know for certain I don’t NEED to look at, then read everything, either Starring or marking Important as I go. Stars are for potential future articles to cover, whereas Important is for correspondence I need to keep checking back on.

  8. Missa

    Right now, my inbox says “Gmail – Inbox (33252)” (Haha talk about e-mail hoarding) … This could take a while. …

  9. Tikkitiboo + Ahka

    Such a great tip – I used to look forward to checking my emails as there used to be only 10-12 each time – no the numbers are starting to hit triple figures!! Great tip!

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  11. Jessica @ Beautify My Life

    Good post! I’ve also created an “unsubscribe” tag for newsletters/catalogs that I don’t want to receive anymore, but don’t have time at that moment to deal with. Then when I have a few minutes, I go through everything I’ve tagged and unsub to all of them.

  12. Mishka

    Labels are a 100% must and the archive feature saves so much stress. I don’t know how anyone exists on the internet productively without these.

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