26,138 Emails in My Inbox (and I feel fine)

For many years I tried to file away emails using a variety of systems and found none of them effective.  The big problem for me was that I could never remember what folder I had filed something in, when filing things it was not clear cut where some thing belonged.  I wasted a lot of time filing emails and often had that feeling of guilt of a load of emails in my inbox that I need to file.

Since deciding to just leave everything in my Inbox about 7 years ago I have never looked back and this study(pdf) seems to vindicate my decision.  I must have saved days or weeks by not filing and I no longer waste energy trying to organize something that doesn’t need organizing.  If I want to find an email I use the Three S Technique(copyright that phrase; me):

  • Searching – I use Thunderbird 3 from Mozilla which has a reasonable search, there is also Google desktop search which can search emails.
  • Sorting – Usually I search for the person I know sent me an email and then sort by date or subject, sometimes I search for a keyword in the subject and sort by sender.
  • Scrolling – I could also add Scan here for another S.  I often just sort by date and scan my eyes over as I scroll through emails and locate what I want.

The other issue is how I deal with incoming emails, filtering them and determining what to action first.  My prime technique is  Scrolling and Scanning, I tend to scan for Senders primary and Subject second and look for anything that might be urgent and deal with those first.  Then as I go through other mails, if there is something I want to come back to later and take some action on, I will just mark it as Unread so I will be able to find it later easily.

So now you know how I deal with the 200+ emails I get every day.  How do you deal with yours?  Do you think I am insane and filing is the only way?  Share your thoughts in the comments.