Focus

With tremendous focus and self-organization, I have finally managed to whittle down the contents of my e-mail In Box from 177 messages to 35. I keep a pretty tight in-box, and there’s a lot of stuff I don’t keep — probably I throw away more than I should.

All the same, I do try to keep e-mail only related to what’s actually on my to-do list in my in box, under the suspicion that anything which stays there more than a few weeks or months functions just like clutter in the house — disturbing the mind and disturbing the soul, even if it’s only “just a few things out of the way.”

Yet it could be that I’m wrong. Do others of you have different perspectives? How do you keep and sort e-mail so that it makes some sort of sense?

7 comments

  1. I delete some,

    save others.

    When I’m ordering a lot of stuff online (I hardly ever shop in stores), it comes in handy to track what I’ve ordered and what I received. It really helps when I thought I ordered something, wonder why it didn’t get here “yet” and do a search to realize I didn’t order that item.

    I need to clean out my inbox – and I have way too many folders that I need to clean up.

    Starting the trial .mac membership with the MacBook Pro I just bought, and I’m going to start using the mail functionality. I actually want to *work* the trial membership and see if i like it. WIth three macs in house now (not counting the iTv), I might be able to use it a bit.

  2. Yeah, I can see I’m going to need more folders than I currently have for sorting e-mail. Fortunately, spotlight on the mac makes it easy to find messages and other stuff.

  3. I don’t save everything, but I do save all my outgoing messages. It’s always tricky, though, figuring out what to save when it’s coming to me from someone else.

  4. I save everything — even an email with the word Hi.

    Outlook automatically puts certain types of emails in certain folders. So, I have an LJ folder, a Myspace folder, and then an individual folder for each of my clients.

    Saving everything has come in handy, especially with work. There are often times when my boss says “Remember that project you worked on two years ago?” I can then just do a subject-line search to find the majority of emails related to that. I pretty much never browse for email, I always search (unless it was a day or two ago).

    Email counts per folder:
    Inbox: 808
    LJ Comments: 1626
    Myspace: 560
    Client Example (this year): 356
    Client Example (2005 & 2006): 2522

  5. I’m with – I filter aggressively, especially for things that arrive regularly, like mailing lists or confirmations from the mortgage company.

    I save messages in folders based on subject. Amazon orders, contact info, SpiritFire, work projects, departmental mail, spam notices.

    My mail program does some arranging automatically. It deletes old sent-mail at the start of each month, and moves messages older than 2 weeks to a folder. The latter isn’t so good, because there are about 2K messages taking up room in there. The spam filter takes care of a lot, but only gets a B- for accuracy. I defined a wide “hmmm” range and filter it to a file for review.

    Things I can reply to in 30 seconds get done instantly. I’m weak at the 2 minute replies, and often put them off too long waiting for a good time to deal with them.

    like clutter in the house — disturbing the mind and disturbing the soul, even if it’s only “just a few things out of the way.”
    Yes, definitely share this experience. Time for a spring cleaning.

  6. Thanks…

    Thank you. That’s actually really helpful, and I used Apple Mail to set up a few such folders this morning. So I’ll be gradually deleting the remaining messages as they get properly stuffed away.

  7. my email automagically filters into appropriate categories leaving my inbox for the most important messages I must deal with. As I deal with something, receive an item I ordered, reply to an email, I delete that email. There are some messages I keep for sentimental reasons but those are filed away in one of the many folders leaving my inbox relatively clear (usually under 10 messages)

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