How to Organize Your Email


Email is an essential part of business. However, it can also be an enormous distraction and time waster. A couple of years ago, I would open my inbox to discover 1500+ new messages each day. Getting through my inbox was exhausting to say the least, plus I often missed important messages. It was time to take control of my email, so I started putting some vital systems in place, so that at the end of each day my email inbox looks like this:

Email Inbox

Yep, that’s ZERO messages in my inbox! Now, let me show you how you can organize your email.

Step #1: Set-Up Folders

  • Action – emails that need a reply, but it will take longer than 2 minutes to respond.
  • Follow-up –emails that I’ve responded to, but I’m waiting for some type of reply. This helps me to not forget that I’m still waiting to hear back.
  • Bacn –email you want, but not right now. These are emails from influencers that I subscribe to for education. I definitely want to read their message, but at my designated “Education” time rather than my allotted time for responding to emails.
  • Junk – emails from companies that send promotions or coupons – I don’t need to be distracted by these emails, but it’s great to have them in this folder so I can quickly search for coupons when needed.
  • Facebook {or Social Media} – all emails from Facebook – you might choose to make this a general social media account, so you can put all messages from Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Personalized Folders– I have additional folders for my iBloom Team, Clients, New Orders, Email List, etc., so you’ll want to create some personalized folders for your individual needs.

Step #2: Create Rules

Email RuleDid you know that you can create “Rules” for your Email, so that your email messages are automatically sorted into designated folders? This is a function that I started using a year ago and it has made a HUGE difference in the amount of time I spend in my email. I have rules set-up, so that most of my emails get automatically sorted into one of my “Favorite” folders. Here are a few examples :

  • Emails from influencer lists that I subscribe to (Michael Hyatt, Carrie Wilkerson, etc.) automatically go to my Bacn folder.
  • Emails from companies that send promotions & coupons (Old Navy, First Watch, etc.) automatically go to my Junk folder.
  • Emails from Facebook (friend requests, status comments, etc.) automatically go to the Facebook folder.

Instructions for Creating Rules for Outlook

Instructions for Creating Filters for Gmail

Step #3: Establish a Daily Routine

  • At a designated time at the beginning and end of my work day, I quickly sort through my inbox.
    • If an email will take 2 minutes or less to respond to, then reply now.
    • If an email takes longer than 2 minutes to respond to, then put it in the Action Folder.
    • Delete unneeded emails.
    • Create rules for emails that are in your inbox, but should have been automatically put into a folder.
    • Have a set-time to reply to emails in the Action Folder. I currently devote an hour a day to respond to these messages (30 minutes in the morning & 30 minutes in the afternoon). You’ll find a time frame that works best for you.

Step #4: Outsource to a VA

As your business grows, there will be a time when you’ll need to outsource certain aspects of your email to someone (usually a virtual assistant). Dawn Wilkerson, our iBloom Client Care Specialist, handles all of the emails that come into our general iBloom email accounts. Since this is a key part of Dawn’s role, she’s able to respond to general requests much quicker than myself or other members of our team. It’s a win-win for our team, but more importantly for our customers. If you’re spending more than an hour a day on email, then it may be time to outsource.

These are my systems for how to organize email. I’m always looking for new suggestions, so I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below and share a tip that works for you.


  • Harriet Yoder

    July 15, 2014 at 10:31 am

    You’ve out done yourself this time, Kelly!

    It took me about 10 minutes to figure it out for Thunderbird (which automatically coordinates with Gmail, btw.) I moved 142 coupon email in 10 seconds. (I searched Mozilla Thunderbird Help for “Manage Message Filters”):

    I’m setting a goal to fix up an email move or two each day until I reach your 0 mailbox goal.

    Thanks for the #LifesaverTip!

    • Kelly Thorne Gore

      July 15, 2014 at 10:37 am

      YAY! I’m SO proud of you for taking action so FAST! 142 emails out of your inbox in 10 seconds – it really is that fast! Setting up 1-2 new filters/rules is a GREAT way to do it.

  • Dawn Wilkerson

    July 15, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I think we ALL needed this refresher! I for one need to go back through and update some rules then re-label some folders 😉

  • Sara Arell

    July 15, 2014 at 11:49 am

    LOVE this idea and going to work on this today! I’ve wanted to organize my email for a long time and these tips are awesome! Thanks so much!

  • Jennifer E

    July 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve already had some rules & folders set up. I’m working through creating more rules and adjusting folders. I use outlook and have both personal and business email accounts that go into it. Each account already has it’s own folder and a rule so that the main inbox does not get all of the email. Now I’m in the middle of sorting out each accounts inbox to make it manageable and getting rid of old emails that are no longer needed.

  • Sandra

    July 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Thanks for the post. I have waaaaayyyy too many emails and it’s a challenge to go through them. I do have some filters and folders in place (i.e. iBloom). I like Harriet’s idea to work on a little bit each day until I reach zero.

  • Cora Dugan

    December 29, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Hi Kelly! Excellent post!!! I love your systems for productivity! Keep up these kinds of posts! They help so much for me to stay organized! With me coming into the office world, it’s a huge help!! Thank you!

  • Amanda Lawrence

    July 21, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    Oh Kelly! Where have you been all my life? I could just cry tears of joy. All the things I’ve had ideas to do and never taken time to figure it out. I am so blessed by you and your ibloom team! I feel like I’m sprinting right now working through all these amazing tools I have needed for so long. “Like a kid in a candy store” only better. The outcomes are only good ones!

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