You’re never going to read those idle messages and it’s wasting your time. The fix is simple and fast.

Few people can say that they never let their inbox get out of control. Even if you’re more of an inbox zero devotee, there’s a fair chance you find yourself with a flooded inbox when you return from vacation or need to go heads down on a project for a few days.

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Simply put, leaving emails where they land wastes time. You waste 27 minutes each day re-reading emails that are languishing in your inbox because you can’t help but read what your eyes see.

Before you can take advantage of these six searches, you need to create two email folders. First, create “Archive” in Outlook or “All Mail” in Gmail, and then create “Readings,” no matter which email service you use. Once you do that, here are six searches you can use to identify emails that are not likely to warrant individual processing.

1. Move all emails older than 7 days to Archive/All Mail
A 2018 study of 1,200 consumers found that only 13 percent of customers and fewer than 1 percent of co-workers expect a response to an email after 2 days. There is little chance the sender of a week-old email is still expecting a response. To remove more emails, change this to five or even three days.

Isolate these emails using these search sequences and then move them to Archive/All Mail:

  • Gmail: in:inbox older_than:7d
  • Outlook: received:<=1/27/19 (replace with the date 7 days ago)

2. Move all emails that you are cc’d on and that are older than 3 days to Archive/All Mail
When you are cc’ed on emails, there is less of a chance you need to respond if you haven’t already. Find these emails using the following search sequences and then move them to Archive/All Mail.

  • Gmail: cc:me older_than:3d
  • Outlook: cc:your email, received:<=1/27/19 (replace with the date 3 days ago)

3. Move emails that don’t have your name in them and are older than 3 days to Archive/All Mail
Emails that don’t include your name are less likely to require your response. Some emails (e.g., addressed to a team or begun with “Hi All”) may require your response, but by coupling the missing name criterion with a 3-day-old criterion, you can reduce the risk of missing something important.

  • Gmail: -matt older_than:3d
  • Outlook: NOT matt received:<=1/27/19 (replace with the date 3 days ago)

4. Move all newsletter and mailing list emails to your Readings folder
You don’t have to read a newsletter. Move them into your Readings folder and set up rules/filters to direct them there automatically in the future.

There isn’t a perfect way to find these emails, but you can use this search and the next to get most of them:

  • Gmail: in:inbox label:^unsub
  • Outlook: unsubscribe OR “opt out”

5. Move remaining mailing list emails to Readings by searching for common mailing list terms
After using the previous search, search for the following terms in Gmail and Outlook to find any stragglers: “privacy policy” or “terms & conditions” or “preferences” or “view in browser” or “view as a web page.”

6. Delete notifications of responses to calendar invitations
While emails letting you know that someone can attend an upcoming meeting can be helpful in the moment, there is no need to allow these emails to clog up your inbox when you can view people’s responses in aggregate for any meeting in the invite itself.

Go ahead and isolate these emails and then delete them:

  • Gmail: from:
  • Outlook: “Pacific Time” (replace with your time zone). Unfortunately, there isn’t a super simple way to isolate these emails in Outlook.

These searches may archive a few emails you wish remained in your inbox, but the benefits far outweigh the risk. Plus, you can find those emails in your folders as easily as you would have in your inbox.

What are you searching for?

About Nelsonecom
By helping clients understand digital communications and media we work together to effectively use and leverage the power of the Internet for their business objectives. This could be for sales, transactions, lead prospecting, building awareness, and more. We do both search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). Visual design, strategic digital communications and marketing, usability engineering, podcasting, and video are some of the services we offer. Others include eBusiness solutions, transactional processes, and digital media. We also monitor our clients’ sites analytics and make content, navigation, and other visual design recommendations. Our clients include small and medium successful offline businesses for whom we develop and use the online world as a part of their future success. Their industries include health, medical, politics, manufacturing, retail, financial, legal, restaurants, gaming, sports, water filtration, real estate, non-profit, and newly financed start-up ventures. In addition, we form partnerships with particular businesses to sell their products and or services online and via digital media.