Too Many Emails? 3 Ways to Declutter Your Inbox

Not every communication needs to be sent via email. Here are three types of emails you should never send.

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at

You get to the office, settle in to tackle the day’s workload, and start checking email. An hour and a half later, you’ve barely made a dent.

As Tom Cochran, Atlantic Media CTO writes in a recent HBR blog post: “In a single week last fall, I received 511 emails and sent 284. Almost 160 emails a day is ridiculous.”

And the bulk of that email, he adds, is internal–a whopping 46%. And of that chunk, almost half his daily inbox, 172 were just emails he was copied on, and another 47 were documents for his review.

“With an average of 32 words per email — about two sentences — many were likely superfluous update emails,” Cochran writes.

Reorginizing interoffice communication, therefore, can go a long way to trim your inbox. The trick, Cochran suggests, is to redistribute many of these brief emails on different technology platforms to which they are better suited.

Here are three of the most common, unnecessary emails Cochran regularly sees–along with a more efficient alternative.

1. Confirmation of receipt or status update on a task.

Solution: Rather than a one-word email, send your colleague an instant message. “Walking around the office now, you can see everyone using instant messenger to communicate,” Cochran writes.

2. You want to send a colleague a quick lunch or coffee invite.

Solution: Make a quick phone call. You’re more likely to reach your recipient immediately, and you won’t take up unnecessary inbox space (or pull attention away from more important email messages).

3. Sending an important document to multiple recipients.

Solution: Create a Google doc and invite all concerned parties to view it. “There’s no need to email documents with collaborative editing in Google Docs,” Cochran writes.

Julie Strickland covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurial endeavors of all kinds for Inc. Her work has been published in Brooklyn Based and City Limits in New York, the Free Times in Columbia, SC, Real Travel Magazine in London, and Daegu Pockets in South Korea. She lives in New York City. @Jules5168

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