By Princess Jones

Email is still very, very important to doing business. So, if your inbox is a mess, it’s time for you to take control of it.

How do you know your inbox is out of control? You dread opening your email at all times and you avoid doing it. Or you have to wade through a slog of unimportant things or SPAM before you can pick out must-read content. Or you can’t return email in a timely manner and miss important messages. Or maybe you have no idea what’s going on with your inbox because you’ve checked out of the whole situation.

If any of those situations sound familiar, it’s time to make a change. It’s time to declare email bankruptcy.

Put the Word Out

Email bankruptcy only works if people know you’re doing it. (Otherwise, they think you’re avoiding them.) Once you’ve decided to declare email bankruptcy, put out a post on your social media.

Keep it short and sweet. Something like “My email inbox has gotten out of control so I’m declaring email bankruptcy. If you have something that needs my attention, please send me a new email.”

You might also put up a temporary email signature that explains the situation. Something like “I declared email bankruptcy on 4.7.17. If you emailed me something that needs my attention prior to that, please resend.”

Start Over

Here’s the part where you’re thinking, “But won’t all those emails I just got rid of just show up again, and I’ll be in the same situation?” Not if you handle ot right!

Just like a financial bankruptcy, the whole point of an email bankruptcy is to make better choices for the future. The last thing you want is to have to do the same thing again six months later.

One way to keep out of email bankruptcy is to practice Inbox Zero, which is just a system of handling email when it comes in by either answering it or creating a task on your to-do list. You can also limit your incoming email by practicing strict SPAM or unsubscribing policies. And if email overwhelms you, make it a point to check it at limited times a day.

In my case, there are times when I can only look at email in the morning after I’ve organized my day and one last time before signing off for the day. When I’m not constantly turning my attention my email program every time something pops into my inbox, I’m less stressed out by the amount of email I’m getting and have a better relationship with it overall.