Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Conquering My Email

I've decided that I have a problem; an E-mail problem, to be exact. While I have a fairly decent track record when it comes to both my personal and business E-mail, there are certainly times when my correspondence falls through the cracks. I forget to respond, lose track of certain threads, and at times even miss important messages.

I use a combined Gmail account for both my personal and business E-mail. As of this morning, I had well over 7,000 E-mails sitting in my Inbox. While I am quick to delete junk mail as it comes in, anything else pretty much stays in my Inbox forever. If it's important, I'll usually remember to "star" or "flag" it, and for recurring messages I even use labels. I'm fairly adept at using Google's search tools to find what I need, assuming I know that I need to find something. But I've definitely got room for improvement.

So, inspired by The E-mail Game, I've decided to conquer my Inbox. Every day, I'll be spending some of my downtime (both at work and at home) going through it, deleting messages I no longer need and archiving the rest. In case you're unfamiliar with the term, Gmail has an excellent archive feature that essentially moves any E-mail you select into a virtual filing folder. It can still be searched, is never deleted, and if anyone replies to an archived message, the thread shows back up in your Inbox. For someone like me who relies on old E-mails for important information, it's the perfect solution.

My goal is to first get through the last few years of correspondence, going all the way back to the time when I merged my work and personal E-mail into one address. Once I've gone back that far (which is approaching 30 months), the rest I'll just shove into the archives and forget about. As I'm sorting, anything that is important will be starred, which is another useful sorting feature that Gmail includes. With that complete, my end goal will be to empty my Inbox each and every day. That way, anything left in my Inbox I automatically know I need to attend to. It's going to take some work to get there, but I am confident it will make a big difference.

How about you? What strategies do you use to help manage and/or conquer your Inbox?

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