Spring (inbox) Cleaning

Once again I’ve turned my attention to my cluttered inbox. Last year I attacked my inbox and had fairly good success, but it was more like sweeping dirt under a carpet in that I really just organized a lot of messages out of my inbox and into folders. Now I’m looking through those folders as well as my inbox and deleting with an iron fist. Its a nice and liberating feeling, but one which I could see going to far. At times I’m tempted to “select all” and “delete”.

What to keep?

I figure I’ll keep messages that mention dates of presentations, conferences and meetings (important ones) for the time being, since I’ve recently been working on updating my resume. After I extract all the important information from them I’ll be happy to let them go.

[next day]

OK, my inbox has nothing in it.

I decided to customize the toolbar. [I’m using Apple’s Mail application] I removed most of the buttons I rarely if ever use (does anyone go up to the tool bar to click “delete” instead of using the keyboard delete button?) and rearranged the ones I do use. One I added that I wasn’t very familiar with is the “mailboxes” option, which toggles the mailbox sidebar. I figure since there’s no clutter in the inbox I might as well minimize everything and leave it as a big blank space.
Figuring I’ll keep the inbox empty I also removed the column which lists “Date Received” – this one could be dangerous, but I’ll try it out for awhile.

[later the same night]

I’m at home now, while waiting to go play darts I’ve been cleaning up one of my Gmail accounts. Deleting in bulk, newsletters, automatic reminders and various old e-mails. Unsubscribed from a list or two.

[Monday morning]

20 messages in my inbox this morning, which seems low. Two factors to why I don’t have over 50 may be that I unsubscribed to several e-mail subscriptions and it was Easter weekend. Either way 20 e-mails don’t seem so daunting.

Generally I start at the oldest e-mail and work towards the newest, however today while getting a coffee I was pondering the most efficient way to get through e-mail. I figure I’ll start with deleting any e-mail that I don’t have to read, respond to or archive, then move on to e-mails to archive and finally attack the ones which need responses.

[less than a minute later]

Deleted 16 messages, and realized there was another list I could unsubscribe from.

Realized the three messages I was about to archive reside on different servers and so deleted them also.

The final e-mail, which I assumed required a response was pure information to be dealt with later. Archived.

Then I noticed that 11 messages followed recently created “rules” and marched themselves into a side folder for dealing with when I have time. I scanned through them and deleted them.

Total morning inbox time: less than 2 minutes

Here are a couple links about zeroing out your inbox:

ProBlogger: From 10000 to 0 Emails in an Inbox in 24 Hours

43Folders Series: Zero Inbox

Have any tricks or tips about e-mail management? Post a comment, share your insights.

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