2018 Thing 1


Welcome to the first thing  in 12 Things SWKLS 2018.   This month we’re going to reduce some of the clutter in our lives and cleanup our email.  Hopefully this will help some of you feel less overwhelmed by your email.   I know a lot of you are already very good at this, but this is a struggle for several people.    I am hoping everyone can learn something this month and there is no better time to begin to declutter our email than at the beginning of the year.

This may look a little familiar to some of you.  Last year some of this was covered in an alternate topic and a few of you completed it.  I am hoping this will be a good reminder and a good refresher for all of you at the beginning of the year.

The activities for this lesson are due January 31 , 2018 at 11:59 pm central time and are worth 2 credit hours.  Estimated work time:  1-2 hours.

If you would rather complete an alternate topic, please go to the alternate topic page and pick one from the list.

Alternately, If you need more of a structured plan and/or your name is Janelle, you are welcome to complete the Get Out of Email Hell: 4 Week Challenge in exchange for Thing 1.   If you complete this challenge, you will have until February 10 to receive credit and will receive 6 credit hours.  If you decide to go this route instead, please still complete Activity 4 and post comments below.

If you get stuck and need help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

What you’ll learn in this lesson:

  • Tips for cleaning up your email inbox
  • How to keep your email organized
  • How to stay on top of your email

Exercises:  (Due January 31, 2018 at 11:59 pm CST)

Tools you will need:

  • A computer or internet enabled device
  • An Internet connection
  • An email account

Activity 1:  (15-30 min)

  1.  Gmail Users:  Complete the Managing Gmail Lesson through gcflearnfree.org.
  2.  Outlook.com users:  Complete the 6 Lessons in Organize your email from https://support.office.com.

Activity 2:  (15-30 min)

  1. Note:  The article and video below are suggestions.  What works best for someone else, may not work best for you.  Use these two resources to think of what may work best to conquer your own email.
  2. Read Get Organized: How to Clean Up Your Inbox from PCmag.com.
  3. Read and watch 5 Easy Steps To End Email Overwhelm
    • (Note:  PLEASE DO NOT save passwords or personal information in your email.  This is an easy way for hackers to get information if your email gets hacked or compromised.  The rest of the information in this video is great! )  

Activity 3:  (15 – 30 min)

  1.  Watch How to Unsubscribe from a Newsletter with Gmail.
  2.  Take 15 minutes two days this month to delete unneeded email and unsubscribe from newsletters or email lists.
  3.  From this point on, immediately unsubscribe from any email you do not want.

Activity 4:  (15-30 min)

  1.  Develop a plan for how you want to conquer your email in 2018.
    • Some ideas:
      1. Spend 10 minutes every Friday afternoon (or another afternoon) cleaning it up.
      2.  10 minutes every morning is another idea.
      3.  Only touch emails once.
      4. Schedule times throughout the day to check your email.
  2.  Share your plan with us below.
  3. Share any tips or tricks you may have.
  4. Reply to at least one other person’s comment below.
    1. Note:  It may take awhile for your comments to show up as we have comments moderated.


Want to learn more?  Check out these links.

45 thoughts on “2018 Thing 1”

  1. My OCD comes in handy with my work and personal email; I rarely have more than 10 messages in the inbox. I create and create and create labels and move them into the labels/folders immediately if no action is required. I am also diligent about deleting emails if no response/archive is needed. I don’t follow the rules and usually check email all day long (it works for me).

    However, my plan for 2018 is declutter all of the saved emails from the past three years. I plan to spend 15-20 minutes in the morning, before we open, reviewing what emails in my labels are still relevant. During the exercise I deleted over 250 emails from 2015 that were not needed – woohoo! After the labels are cleaned up, I then plan to review 2018 saved emails at the first of next year, so I don’t get behind again.

    I did learn how to delete a single message in a conversation and I was very happy to learn this trick. Sweeping is another cool trick too. For my personal use, I like the idea of setting up an online shopping email account to use so that my personal email doesn’t get bogged down with sales, etc.

    1. Jessica Dearden

      Decluttering in the future is a great idea! I haven’t been at this job quite a year yet, but that will be a good future goal for myself!

    2. I admire you for keeping your inbox so clutter free. I guess my main fear is that if I delete something I will need it but it is time to get over that and tackle this problem. Great job on getting your inbox organized.

      1. Ruby,

        I have the same fear about needing something that has been deleted. I am the one people go to in the office if they need information from an old email. Just last week we needed to find an email from February of 2017 and guess what… I had it! I still need to clean up all of the junk I have.

  2. I use gmail and already do most of what was shared in the lesson 🙂 Can’t stand clutter!!! I love using labels and filters with color coordination!!! I try to declutter my emails at least once a day.
    I had no idea about the search feature! That is awesome!! Thanks so much for that!
    Plan for 2018 is to unsubscribe immediately to those pesky newsletters I don’t care to receive and some that I have no idea why I am receiving them! Thanks for the info about how to unsubscribe if there is no unsubscibe button!!

    1. I agree with Janelle, the unsubscribe button is freeing! You will be so glad to take the time to do it. I started in my personal email in 2017, even if one a day and it has made life so much better (well until the Christmas shopping season).

  3. Jessica Dearden

    I have found some very useful tips in this lesson! I never ventured too far into learning about outlook and just did basics. I will be utilizing the categories and follow up tools in my email use.
    My plan will be to check and organize the emails first thing in the morning and to leave little if nothing in the inbox! Folders will be my friend!!

    I feel more confident in my email use and can’t wait to utilize it in 2018!

  4. Just went through about 3,000 emails…. Unsubscribed, deleted, filtered and filed. Down to 54 in the inbox and planning to decrease that number in the coming days! Will be doing a lot of “Search”ing through the All Mail file but at least for the most part it’s out of sight, out of mind!

  5. I am a lot like Amy with my OCD and clutter drives me crazy!

    But my plan is to create labels and not delete as much because I always end up deleting something I need, and I did learn a little something about what it actually means to archive an email! I love the labels so far along with how I can color code them, my email is already starting to look a lot better and I haven’t deleted something I really needed.

    Thanks Janelle!!

    1. I also learned what it meant to “archive”! Always thought it was a form of deleting since it was gone after I archived it, I just didn’t know where to look for it again! Lol!

      1. I agree!! Now I know how to archive and find it again if I need it. Also color coding labels will help a great deal, as well as the “search” feature.

      1. I went through and color coded the important ones that I need to keep for awhile but not forever. It is so helpful.

  6. Well, at present I do half of the suggestions! I do go through every morning and delete all email I don’t want to look at. My goal is to set up folders to move the important emails into so that I can find them easier and move or delete each email as I look at it the first time. Hopefully I will master my email instead of being overwelmed! The unsuscribe from newsletters video was confusing and I find that if you scroll to the bottom of an unwanted newletter email you can find an ‘unsubscribe’ button or link and I use that.

  7. I also learned what it meant to “archive”! Always thought it was a form of deleting since it was gone after I archived it, I just didn’t know where to look for it again! Lol!

  8. I use g-mail and my plan is to set aside more time to manage my e-mail. I am really bad about looking at it on my phone or at work then if it is not an action e-mail letting it set and take up space in my inbox. I am going to make a real attempt to get it out of my inbox and into folders. I already have some folders that I use but I plan on using more. I really liked Bernadette Doyle’s ideas. I would like to implement some of her approaches in conquering my e-mail. I also really liked the color coded labels and will be doing that more. I got rid of 3,000 plus e-mails that were in my account. I also have unsubscribed to annoying news letters and other junk I was getting.

  9. I love it when people use a good email subject description – makes the decision easy to delete or read. I didn’t know about the color coding labels. That’s a score. Luckily Steve helped to set up a few labels/folders for me on one of his first visits to the library last year after I accepted the email address from the previous director. I’ve been unsubscribing ever since. I also didn’t know about the “block” inside the email top-right. Very useful! I set up 2 new labels/folders: 1 for Board emails and the 2nd for receipts. Thanks for the motivation, Janelle!

    1. I love good email subject lines, too! It makes it so much easier to decide what to do with it and to find it later if you need to! I like the idea of having a receipt and board folder. That makes a lot of sense for a library director.

  10. I use gmail and I am horrible about getting it organized. But I made myself promise about two months ago I was going to do a better job and so I try to sort early in the morning and whenever I have a few minutes during the day. I have gmail set up that I receive all of my accounts here at the library so I only deal with everything once. After viewing the videos I starting unsubscribing to messages that didn’t matter anymore to me. My real issue is working with my starred messages. I will either do folders or labels so that I can get that more manageable. I needed this class to inspire me to get going on the process.

  11. These are all great tips! Having a cluttered inbox drives me crazy, so I check my email every morning and keep the tab open through my work day!

  12. Stephanie Sonday

    I don’t really get a lot of email at work but, however I learned so much from all of these helpful tips on quicker ways to organize! I am all about organization, so I will definitely use these ideas in my future. Archiving and saving things that might be helpful for later use will be nice as well. I’m excited to be learning about new things and can’t wait for next months lesson!

  13. I check email throughout the day. If not, like say I am on vacation, I will only check once in the morning and once in the afternoon. (If I get bored, I check email a lot.)
    I do one of three things with an email: act, delegate, or delete. I tend to archive most email. Like Ruby mentioned, you never know when you need it again. And with Gmail offering so much storage, and having a label feature, no need to look at something again unless I am looking for it.
    One trick I learned about Gmail. If you are looking for something and can’t find it with a regular search include the phrase “in:anywhere” after your search term. This will look beyond inbox and label emails and include trash, junk, and spam.

    My plan going forward is to not check email as much. It is a time waster and a good sign of boredom and that I should be doing something more productive.

    As an aside, I have been religiously unsubscribing from email lists and email ads. I can go a whole day and only get one or two emails.

  14. I needed this lesson to make me get on the ball & clean up my email! I added to my labels & folders in my work email. I also deleted about 800 old emails, some from the person who had this account before me. So my work email is now at a manageable level. I am striving to be better about “touching emails once” though I can’t always make myself do that. Now my next goal is to clean up my personal email.

  15. I chose the alternate lesson Learn More About Facebook. I was able to adjust more of my privacy settings, through this lesson. I didn’t know my Information could be accessed through my friend’s FB page. And, I don’t like all the emails I get notifying me that someone has sent me a message or reply on FB. It just clutters my email. I also, really don’t like having to take time to delete all of those emails. I’m hoping I have the right privacy settings now, to stop most of this.

  16. I had no idea about these features on gmail. I’m going to start right away on organizing my email. Thank you so much for this useful information!

  17. Just went through and organized my inbox by years and deleted LOTS that I’d just let accumulate. Great reminders and new tips!

  18. Nothing like waiting until the last day, but I have hopefully “cleaned up” my email and can manage to keep it that way. I have also added some color coded labels to help with the sorting process. My goal is to “process” it every Tuesday and Friday afternoon. A lot of the email I receive at work comes through the group and may really only require the attention of the director, so I delete much of that already. The archive feature was new to me and will be used for those emails that I’m unsure about deleting. Out of sight, out of mind, at least until I need to remember something.

  19. Laurie Petersilie

    I took over Jean’s email and she did a pretty good job of keeping her inbox manageable but her method was to move emails to folders. So I am in the process of sifting through all the folders she had set up and deleting irrelevant emails. When I get done with this I plan to delete some of the folders that I won’t use. I’m still pretty new so I am a little hesitant to delete too much…I can’t imagine zeroing my inbox every day. I do like the idea of whittling it down enough to see “white space” though so that is something I will work on. I typically start my day off by cheking email first thing in the morning and again before I leave for the day but need to do better at “processing” rather than “checking”. I like the idea of the color labels because I often look back to reference an email that I read earlier in the day or even a few days ago and I think color labels would make it so much easier to find what I am looking for. The archive feature was not something I was familiar with and I can see how it can be useful.

  20. I plan to go through my g-mail account and delete unwanted e-mails each morning. I also plan to unsubscribe to unwanted newsletters that clutter my inbox. This was good lesson!

  21. Thank you for this tutorial! I found it very beneficial with all the emails from school coming in at the same time.

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