A few days ago I had over 2,000 emails in my Mail inbox. That is just out of control. My mail was sort-of organized: I had some folders set up but they were really just taking up space. After reading a post on Glenn’s site I got some motivation and a few hours later had a clean inbox, and a system set up to keep it clean.
My old organization included folders that were for holding emails from different sources. Such as relating to my Prayer Room team, or from my hosting resellers account, or from thefightspot.com. If an email didn’t fall into one of these categories then it stayed in the primary inbox. If it was an email that I needed to respond to in some way I would keep it as ‘unread.’
SET UP FOLDERS
When I realized that this method was not working, I needed a new plan. I set up four new ‘general’ folders – in addition to the specific folders I already had set up – that would cover every single email I got.
- Follow Up - Emails I need to reply to.
- ToDo - Emails that require some sort of action on my part.
- File: Info - Emails that have passwords, or links or information I want to keep.
- File: Faves - Emails that aren’t important but I don’t want to delete.
PLAN OF ATTACK
When I get an email I have two options: 1) Respond right away or 2) do something with the email. If it is an email that I cannot or do not want to respond to right away then the email gets filed into one of my folders.
For example; an email containing info on a design project I’m working on will be filed into the ToDo folder. An email from an old friend I haven’t talked to in a while goes into the Follow Up folder. Now that I had my folders set up, I was ready to start sorting, filing and deleting….
CLEANING OUT MY INBOX
I started by sorting my emails by recipient. Knowing that there were certain people I email back and forth with random messages several times a day. I deleted the majority of those emails, and then sorted again by date.
I started with the oldest emails, and just began deleting anything that didn’t strongly look important. This is where the pack-rat inside yells “STOP! You may need that one day.” You don’t. Just keep on deleting.
Once I got to a message that needed to be kept, I would file into it’s respective folder. 2,000 messages later I had a blank inbox and a smile.
The advantage of having a blank inbox and relevant, workable folders is now I can easily and quickly take care of my email with less time wasted during my day. It’s easier to spot emails I don’t need to keep and delete them after I reply – keeping my inbox clean and organized.
Then when I sit down to work from my mail program I can quickly see what emails I need to follow up with, and what needs to be done out of my ToDo folder.
(Next, I have to delete my 4,674 sent messages. Not kidding.)18 comments