Home Forums Get productive Using my email inbox differently – huge difference!

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    This seems almost too simple to work, but I’ve been doing it for a couple of weeks now and I love it. I’m using Outlook, but most email clients would probably have similar options. Forgive me if it’s old hat, I’m a bit slow with this stuff.

    I’ve deleted my entire, complicated system of mail folders (except for some – but I’ll get to that). Basically these days I find the best way to find anything I need is to use the search option, and I’ve just eliminated a whole bunch of unnecessary email actions by having a single mail folder called (currently) ‘2015‘.

    I’ve also created a rule that delivers all incoming mail to 2015 instead of inbox (except stuff from my own email address), and I’ve set my inbox preference to show the total number of messages, NOT just the unread ones.

    So now, when I check my incoming mail I’m looking at the unread messages at the top of 2015. I ctrl+click any that I need to deal with, and move them to the inbox. Then I right-click 2015 and ‘mark all as read’. Essentially I’ve changed from every bit of email noise requiring a decision and an administrative action, to simply browsing the ‘stream’ of email and cherry-picking the important stuff.

    Now the inbox shows, say, 5 issues, and I can focus my energy on these. I haven’t filed (or deleted) the other mail, I can browse through it any time I want, but it is well out of my way with almost no action on my part. Stuff only gets into my actual inbox by being important enough to pick out, or by me sending myself a message.

    FWIW, I have another folder called 2014, and that sits within 2015. Next year I’ll move the whole lot into a new folder called (you guessed it) 2016. It keeps my folder pane clean and newest on top, and I can decide for myself how long I want to keep the old message folders.

    The only other folders I use now are for subscriptions – domain name renewals etc. These folder names are prefixed by their next renewal date (see pic). That way I can keep tabs on anything that needs to be renewed periodically, with the next due being at the top of the list.

    Anyway, it works a treat for me, I hope it helps someone else!


    • Total posts: 318

    Sounds like it’s a great solution for you. I always like reading ideas in case I can learn a new method. Thanks for sharing.

    I use folders. I wouldn’t want to tag everything and I find search painful if it’s a common word in the subject line or body, or occasionally when I can’t think of the likely keywords.

    In any case, search works across all folders in my client, or within specific folders, or I can browse, so everything is possible.

    • Total posts: 641

    Sounds like an OK system however you may be delayed on emails requiring a more urgent response. I am all for a zero (or close to Inbox) – it helps keep the head in balance :D Every email you can’t deal with quickly should be turned into a task with an associated date of action and deleted out of there – it sure helps keep the Inbox close to empty. Outside this find a good PA or VA to screen all your emails and only bring the most important ones to your attention (preferably not via a computer).

    • Total posts: 36

    what a wonderful solution. I must definitely give it a try!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Total posts: 2,278

    Glad you’ve found something that works for you!!

    I use Outlook on my desktop and keep my inbox to zero, or as close to as I can lol. I only use folders to collect newsletters etc directly, rather than via my inbox.

    I check emails four times a day only. An email is either read (if it’s simply information), dealt with immediately if it requires action (only if it’s under 5 minutes), or added to my calendar as a task with a specific due date (if it’s longer than 5 mins). Then the email is deleted.

    If I ever need to find it again (have only done this twice in 12 months) then I use the search option.

    Wendy :)

    • Total posts: 641

    Checking efficiently 2 or 4 times a day is a brilliant strategy if your job requirements (and anxiety levels allow for it). Expectations are high and some situations require faster attention and responses.

    • Total posts: 4,485
    arrowwise, post: 222892, member: 54026 wrote:
    Outside this find a good PA or VA to screen all your emails and only bring the most important ones to your attention (preferably not via a computer).

    I would ask if the emails are able to be screened by a VA, why have them coming to you in the first place, unsubscribe or go back to the source and tell them to stop annoying you.

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