Sunday, October 25, 2015

Email Inbox Organization--Three Steps

This is a follow up to my previous post e-hoarding

I’m nervous today. I cleaned out my email over the past week. I worry because I might have deleted something I needed.  But it had to be done. My inbox looked worse than my dining room table.

What I started with:                        
1500 unread emails. Almost 5000 kept emails. 22 folders. Chaos.
I Googled organizing email and found I’m not alone in being overwhelmed by digital stuff. I found over a million sites about this. I picked a few—referenced at the bottom. Most of mine has come from friends’ ideas.

My Three Part System
Part One: Clean It Out
If you don’t do this first you’ll be trying to organize things you don’t even need or want. I don’t know how long you should keep something, but I’m sure it’s not ten years on the internet. Even the IRS isn’t that strict.
I’m down to about 150 kept emails. It still sounds like a lot. There were some emails I’ve reread and referenced so I kept those. Most are from ongoing projects that will be deleted once the project is finished. The time frame to allow to do this depends on how much time you have and how many emails. Like I said, mine took a week.
Part Two: Make a System
I thought about the subjects of things I do and made folders to correspond. Then the move from inbox to the folders began.  I ended up with 6 folders and one with 4 subfolders—9 folders total. It works because of the various emails I have to save.
Voila! Empty inbox and emails where I can find them.
Part Three: Maintenance and Modification
I hate checking email. I also read that if you check it too much you get more back. Most sites said twice, maybe three times a day. So, I’m starting with twice.

Of course this system may need tweaking, so I’ll modify as I go.  But now it’s doable.
Your system and checking will look different, of course. You may have to check more often due to work. Or less often if you're lucky.

What I Have Now
Empty inbox. About 150 saved mails. 6 folders and 4 subfolders. Organized Mail.
Of course I still have the concern over deleting things. But I like my organized email, so I’ll just have to get over the other.
My system is simple, but I don’t do a whole lot of work with email. It’s more for contact and connection. So, if you’d like more in-depth and information on all the other things available check out:
Organizing Your Email Inbox
13 Tips to Organizing Your Inbox 
Revive Your Inbox  --this one is the most in-depth, and has a program to help you. But, the irony is, they email it to you every day for 21 days.
You can always Google search it as well.

How about you? Do you get frustrated with too many emails? Any organizing tips or strategies that worked for you?