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Real-life junk mail has long been a scourge on humanity, but at least it's easy to keep it under control: When it arrives, you just toss it in the recycling bin, unopened, never to think about it again. But junk mail is somehow different when it comes to your email inbox. It has a way of adding up and adding up, and soon you're looking at a thousand unread emails in your box. If you're like most of us, you put up with it until you have a big chunk of time and can work up the motivation to go through and delete everything you don't need.

A better strategy is to prevent your inbox from overflowing to begin with, and here are six proven ways to do just that.

1. Set a weekly date to clean out your inbox. Getting rid of junk mail is much easier when you only have a handful of messages to delete instead of hundreds. Each week, take ten minutes to clean up your inbox. Even better, delete unwanted messages each day, which should take less than two minutes.

2. Unsubscribe. Many junk emails have fine print at the bottom that provides a link for unsubscribing. Click on the link and follow the directions. Ideally, you won't get any more emails from the offending sender.

3. Set up a special junk email account. Some websites require that you enter your email to proceed to wherever you're going. That's because they want to send you lots and lots of advertisements, newsletters, and other mail. Set up a special Yahoo! or Gmail account just to use for this purpose. You can let it fester forever, since you don't even need to check it, knowing that it's all junk. This will help keep your main email account free of unwanted messages.

4. Use the provided tools. Whether you use Yahoo!, Gmail, Outlook, or another provider, check out the tools they offer. You may be able to do things like automatically delete emails from a particular sender, archive emails you no longer need but don't want to delete, or create filters so that junk emails are easily identifiable.

5. Use the search feature. When your inbox is chock full and you don't want to delete them one by one, use the search tool to find multiple messages from one sender, which you can then delete in bulk.

6. Use an app. Apps like unroll.me (https://unroll.me/) can help keep your inbox clean as a whistle. When you sign up for this free service, they'll evaluate your inbox and provide you with a list of all of your subscriptions. You can unsubscribe from the ones you don't want right then and there, and bundle the ones you do want. Once you bundle them, you'll get one "Daily Rollup" email that contains all of the newsletters you might want to look at.

You don't have to be a slave to your inbox or let it stress you out if you stay on top of your email volume each day or on a weekly basis and use the tools at your disposal to make fast, easy work of clearing out unwanted messages. Taking the time to set up your inbox and explore the tools at your disposal can save you a lot of time — and annoyance — later on.

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