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.