Cleaning my inbox
Maarten | On 29, Dec 2012
New Year’s Resolutions for Technology (2)
The week between Christmas and New Year’s provides a nice break from the regular routine and the daily flood of emails. So first I’m going to clear out some of the accumulated messages and then I’m going to start some strategies to keep my inbox looking a little tidier than it’s been. I’m harvesting the ones I want to keep and winnowing out those I don’t.
I’m guilty (wow … why did I use “guilty” to describe this behaviour?) of using my inbox as a to-do list – if I don’t deal with an incoming request or offer as soon as I read it, it lingers in my inbox until I do. I sort emails related to specific topics and activities into the appropriate folders within a few hours/days. Other items linger just because I’d like to keep them, but don’t really have a specific storage home.
To deal with those types of messages, I created folders named “To-Do” and “Archive”. I’m slightly worried that I won’t actually refer to the To-Do folder, but I’m hoping that if my inbox is sufficiently empty I’ll go there looking for things to do. Then I renamed the folder “1-ToDo”, so that it’s at the top of the list of folders.
In general, my inbox is sorted in reverse chronological order – so the most recent emails are at the top. I started my harvesting and winnowing at the bottom, and quickly tired of this tedious task. I decided to re-sort, and selected by subject, which wasn’t very useful. Then I tried sorting by sender – and that did quickly identify a number of emails, mostly newsletters, which I intended to read later. I didn’t want to put them with archive or with to-do, so I also created a “Read Later” folder. There were also a group that contained special offers for services like blurb (for publishing books) or some photo/video plug ins that hadn’t yet expired, so I created an “Offers” folder for those. I guess I’ll have to remember to revisit those from time to time to delete those that are past due.
That got my inbox down to a manageable number of emails from the last week. And I checked through my 1-todo folder and dealt with a few of those tasks.
I’ve contemplated creating rules to sort incoming messages into the appropriate folders automatically. I’ve tried that in the past and find that the filters aren’t very reliable and it makes it too easy to ignore certain messages. Just to make sure that the latest release of my mail software hasn’t improved this function, I did create a rule to autosort several vendors into the offers folder. I’ll see if that works better these days.
Selecting the vendors for those rules also made me realize that there are some vendors I’m not likely going to shop from again. I’ve unsubscribed to them. I also looked at the read later folder and decided that any that are over a week old can be deleted. Over the next week I’m going to think about which of those are still of interest and value to me, and I may unsubscribe to some of those also.
That’s enough for now. As Jian Ghomeshi says, “To be continued …”