This year, I have decided it is time to clean out my email and keep it that way. This is one thing that I have put off for way to long; currently I have a few thousand sitting there. Cleaning out and organising my email is something that I really need to stay on top off. Here are a few tips on for organising your email and staying on top of it too.
Tips for Organising Your Email
Whether you use Outlook, Thunderbird, Apple’s Mail or one of the web based email clients such as Gmail, there is an neverending need to organise your inbox. For as soon as you clear it out, it refills by itself. It’s like dog hair. It intentionally congregates in unwanted places, floating out from under the sofa just as you sit down with your TV dinner to catch the latest episode of your favourite show. And it multiplies according to its own internal rules. If you receive just 25 emails a week, that’s 1300 in one year. If you receive 25, 50 or 100 a day, that’s either 9,125 or 18,250 or 36,500 dog hairs to file, organise and sort out each year.
Trash if you can
It may seem obvious, but the first and most important rule is to dispose of old emails. Just because Google’s Gmail offers many gigs of storage per client should not be an excuse to save every piece of junk and newsletter you have ever been sent. Soon, even this space will fill, so perhaps the first habit to learn is to dispose of emails that you have read and no longer need. Another good habit to adopt is a method of organising your existing mail.
Unsubscribe from emails
To stop your important emails being taken over by advertisements, unsubscribe from unwanted promotional emails. This will limit the amount of emails you receive in the future, which in turn, will help with organising your email in the future.
Organise the way that suits you best
Filers are people who have never been able to drop the habit of creating another folder so that they will know exactly where everything is at any moment. Filers though do have limitations. As the number of emails increase so proportionately do the number of folders to file them in. This can lead to difficulties when a message is sought from a cousin abroad offering you work and you cannot remember if it was filed in family, friends, travel, or work opportunities. Filing takes time, not just to file, but also to retrieve.
Searchers are people that do not like to have to think about what they do with things. They were once filers and got fed up. So now they throw everything into a corner and cleverly use filters and search tools to drag them out when they are needed. Searchers can use a number of tools depending on their platform. Mac users have had Spotlight for some time and now can add Google Desktop to their choice. PC users have had Google for a while, amongst other 3rd party programs and now have Vista’s search facility. There is one drawback with Searching and that is you have to remember the name of what you are searching for. This is where tagging is so useful.
Taggers are people who like to classify, but not file. That is they dump in corners but label whilst they dump. Taggers have a great time in that by tagging an email with add-ons such as Mail tags and Tagcity means they can collect similarly tagged mail in fresh and changing forms. If you have used del.icio.us then you will have experienced some of the power of this system.
Divide by three
Whatever your character, one final approach is a variation of the 3 box solution as recommended by Getting Things Done (GTD) guru David Allen amongst others: Keep all mail in one folder called inbox. Everything else goes into either a folder called: To be Read and Dealt With – or Awaiting More Info. Pile it all in one of these three in-boxes at the end of each day and next morning you will hopefully find your sofa free of dog hair.