Email Inbox Processing System

Each email that arrives in the inbox requires time and energy. So it’s better to have an email inbox processing system that can reduce the headache of managing emails and keeping the inbox decluttered.

The first and the simplest approach would be to creates rules and filters to weed out less important emails like newsletters, advertisements, notes, etc. to their appropriate folders. This will decrease quite some workload, but the rules won’t be efficient enough to handle important emails. Those important emails will be filtered using rules that are inside our brain, and which can’t be defined with an automatic rule-based management.


The key would be to evaluate all the important emails as soon as possible and set them to actionable items. So let’s start by creating different folders, based on the action that we will execute on them.

  1. Inbox (Default)
    This folder should only have unread and unprocessed items only.
  2. Respond
    This folder will have emails that require a quick response, probably 5-10 mins. Can got through this folder periodically to get things done.
  3. Action
    This folder will contain emails that require some time to action. Example: Research, detailed analysis, building something, etc.
  4. Hold
    These are items which are ok to be handled in a few days or a couple of weeks. Need to be triaged every week.
  5. Waiting
    This is for emails where the action lies on the sender.
  6. Archive
    This is for emails that need to be stored for future references. These don’t need any work, but can be searched through in the future. This folder can have subfolders similar tot he top level folders we just defined, but not necessary.
  7. Trash
    This is for anything that is not required anymore.


Processing or triaging is the mechanism by which we go through the unread emails in the inbox. We need to go through all those emails, and based on requirement, either do them now, or move to a folder for deferred action. If it’s not required, then it will either be archived or trashed.


We are hard wired to check emails every now and then, which makes an average of 500 interruptions a day. But if we take a look into our poast emails, we will realize how little amnount of emails do require out immediate attention. So we need to re-train ourselves to not rush into reading emails. Start off with setting the email schedule to 60 minutes, and spare around 10 minutes to process these in one go. So every hour, we would just be using up 10 minutes for processing emails. Send as many emails as required, and get off the email client.

Keep it Short

When responding to email, keep the response as much concise as possible. Do not keep emails, just because you don not want to write a long response. When a clarification is required, we can give it in another response.

This email inbox processing system is going to save a lot of time and mental energy in the long term. To read on how to declutter your inbox, you can read empty email inbox in under a minute.

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