Photo credit: Ervins Strauhmanis via Creative Commons

Ughhhhh. You can feel it, can’t you? The weight of all those dozens (hundreds? thousands, even?) of emails just sitting there in your inbox.

Some of those messages in your inbox go back weeks – maybe even months. Sure, you try to make sure you identify the important ones and act on them as they come in.

But the rest… you’ll get to them eventually, right? And, anyway, if the odd important one slips through the cracks… well, if it’s that important, surely the sender will follow-up and send it again.

Meanwhile, your inbox has bloated to the point where even putting aside an entire day to deal with it still won’t get it totally under control. No wonder you long to just choose “Select All”, hit the delete button, and trash the entire backlog in a single fell swoop.

Tempting as the ‘trash everything‘ option might be, though, you know it’s not a long-term solution for E.I.S. (Exploding Inbox Syndrome). Here’s why:

1. Chances are high that there are genuinely important emails mixed in with all those outdated long-expired special offers, webinar invitations and junk. You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater … and if you just delete everything wholesale, you’ll always wonder whether you trashed something essential.

2. That email backlog gives you a record of all the things you’re currently subscribed to. If you simply delete it all without looking, you can’t check which of those subscriptions you want to keep, and which you want to unsubscribe from. That means you’ll continue to get those annoying emails (so the problem doesn’t just go away).

3. Your inbox is in the state it’s in now because you didn’t realise that there were quick, simple, everyday practices you could use to keep it under control. Unless you change your day-to-day habits, your newly-empty inbox will just fill up again with junk the moment you turn your head… and you’ll be back to square #1 (complete with all the frustration, stress and embarrassment you feel right now).

So. If you can’t just hit “delete” and trash everything, what CAN you do?

The bad news (or good news, depending on your viewpoint) is that there’s no one right solution for everyone. Instead, there are principles — four of them, to be exact — that can help you to not just GET your inbox under control, but also help you to KEEP it that way.

And within those principles, there are about 20 possible actions you could take to help you make peace with your inbox. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to do all 20 … it’s more like a buffet and we can work together to pick the right options for you).

The most important email principle for you to focus on — and the best actions for you to take — are going to depend totally on your unique situation. It’ll vary according to the current size of your inbox, the makeup of your emails, the way your brain works, and your own individual preferences.

To help you figure out which principle and actions would be most valuable for you to focus on, I’m offering a limited number of free 30-minute Inbox Health Check sessions. There are only 14 of them available, and I’m only offering them until midnight December 4.

If you’d like one of them to be yours (or if you’re curious and want to find out more about the sessions), read all about it HERE.