1. New E-mail!
2. Does it need a response?
I tend to get quite a few e-mails from stores notifying me of sales and promotions or follow up e-mails that don't necessarily need a reply. When this is the case, I instantly delete the e-mail.
3. Do I have a response now?
After I clear out the e-mails that don't require a response, I tackle the ones that do. Typically I can formulate a response and send it off right away. Sometimes, though, I don't have a response right away! If that is the case then I move on to step 4!
4. Flag or star
I use Microsoft Outlook so which has a flag function. This function allows me to flag an e-mail, add a reason for the flag and set a reminder to follow up! I love it! G-mail also has a great start function for e-mails that you need to go back to!
5. File for later
If I have an e-mail or e-mail thread that I think I should hang on to, then I create a folder or tag and place it there! This makes it a lot easier to find something quickly!
After going through all of the steps and finding no reason to keep an e-mail - I delete it. I do not like to see e-mails in my inbox. It causes me unnecessary stress and looks messy!
This is how I manage my inbox and while it may not be a perfect method, I think it's pretty effective! If you're a stickler for a tidy inbox - let me know what methods you use!