How to digitally declutter your workspace

As spring and summer inspire us to open up windows, disinfect desks and countertops and clean out a winter’s worth of built-up dust, it’s easy to look over a location that may need an even deeper clean than the inside of your house — your inbox.

While it can be tempting to hit the “subscribe” button to free newsletters, listservs and recaps from all the websites or news outlets you follow, the sheer volume of emails can build up fast. It can be hard to get to the day-to-day emails you need — let alone identify which subscriptions are worth reading — when your inbox is overwhelmed by digests.

Here are some tips to help get out of the rut of digital declutter and back to the things that matter:

  1. Build a routine

    Whether you like to start your day off with a cup of coffee and the headlines, browse through your daily alerts while on your lunch break or catch up on the news via a podcast, chances are there’s a moment in your day that you’re already setting aside to read news digests.

    Make your reading time official. Block off time on your calendar for daily reading to make sure that you’re not missing out on critical updates from your valued resources without feeling like other important items are slipping out of view. Additionally, consider moving new subscription emails to a specific folder, marking them as read or deleting them outright according to your new routine.

  2. Find your focus

    What type of distributions impact your day-to-day work? While a morning pop culture round-up might be tempting, chances are this isn’t a newsletter to prioritize during your workday.

    Be specific — and realistic — about what you’ll read, even if the subject matter technically applies to you. Do the daily newsletters from your favorite communications resources inform your day-to-day work, or do they go straight to the trash? There’s no need to take up valuable space in your digital workspace or your head with something you won’t actually use.

  3. Hit unsubscribe

    Sometimes the easiest solution to decluttering your inbox isn’t the first (... or second, or third) thing that comes to mind — especially when the sweet, simple delete button is a click away. Weeks, months or years of hitting delete instead of taking a few seconds to open an email and opt out of future communications can add up quickly.

A little attention now will save your inbox, and your mind, a lot of stress in the future.

Additional resources from the Office of Information Technology can be found here: