Office workers receive an average of 121 emails per day, according to email marketing company Campaign Monitor.
Sheer volume means that for many professionals, maintaining an organized inbox can seem nearly impossible. Bestselling author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin says that while email is "a wonderful servant," it's also "a bad master, and all of us need to think about our own approach."
She spoke with CNBC Make It three ways you can take control of your inbox for good:
In her latest book, "Outer Order, Inner Calm," Rubin explains how clearing out the physical and mental clutter in our lives is key to making room for greater happiness. This, she says, includes emails which are a crucial part of the workplace.
Inbox maintenance is "an area where you can't say what's the best way, or what's the right way or what's the most efficient way because there's so much variation," Rubin says. But one of the practices she swears by for taming an unruly inbox is unsubscribing from any newsletter or email chain she deems unnecessary.
"Unsubscribe to as much as you can and as fast as you can on anything that you don't want," she says.
A second way that Rubin says you can declutter your inbox is by gaining a clear understanding of your company's carbon copy policy, so that you aren't inundated with emails in cases where your input isn't needed.
"Some workplaces get into the habit of just CCing everybody, even if they aren't all connected and that leads to a lot of wasted time and distraction," she says.
She suggests talking to your boss about email etiquette and policies "because obviously, if you're not CC'd when you think you should be, then that's very irritating as well."
"Although it's not creating clutter in your inbox, it might be creating problems for you elsewhere so have clarity around these things," she adds.
In addition to having clarity around your company's CC policy, Rubin says you should also gain a clear understanding of what's considered an appropriate time to send and respond to emails in your office.
"Sometimes people feel overwhelmed and like their lives are just cluttered with email because they're getting work emails over the weekend or at night," says Rubin. "Again, talk to the people in your workplace and find out what the expectations are."
As someone who doesn't mind sending and responding to emails at all times, Rubin says she uses delay delivery. "This is a way that you can set the time that your email goes out so that [you aren't] inundating people with emails at times they feel are inappropriate," she explains.
Using delay delivery, Rubin says, is also a great resource for her — she can quickly get emails off her mind and out of the way regardless of the time of day, without inconveniencing anyone else.
"The thing about email is that it's an extremely powerful and useful tool," she says. "But we need to take command of it, not to just do our default behaviors and let it wash over us but to really think about how to use it well so that it doesn't become a source of clutter in our minds and in our inbox."
Video by Taylor Moore
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