Email is an integral part of  business, but can become one of the biggest productivity drains. One minute you’re checking it to organise your day, and the next, you’re three hours behind on the task at hand with hundreds of new messages piling up in your inbox. Here are some tips on how to take control of your email inbox and eliminate email overwhelm once and for all!

Create folders based on context

When you first create an email address, set up folders based on context. Keep all your correspondence with clients in one folder, job-related notes in another, finance-related items in yet another. This way, it’s easy to find an old contract or invoice when you need it.

Rethink labels

Most emails that come into our inbox aren’t emergencies—but we treat them like they are. Train yourself to think critically about each message as it comes in, asking: Is this an emergency? If it isn’t, then flag it for later—or just delete it. If you spend time every day cleaning out messages that don’t require immediate attention, your response times will improve dramatically.

Use filters

Filters can be a great way to organise your emails. Set up a filter that will auto-organise emails from a certain person, topic, or source into a folder. This way you can separate important emails from spam ones without ever having to see them in your main inbox. You can also add filters to create folders for specific projects, so all related emails are saved in one place.

Get rid of unused subscriptions

Most of us have a lot of emails in our inboxes that we never look at. Many email programs have smart unsubscribe features, or a handy unsubscribe link at the top of the email body. Clean out those subscriptions and your email inbox will be more streamlined in no time.