Wednesday, February 20, 2013

E-mail overload

Lately I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed by my inbox, using traditional sort, delete, and move techniques I would go from thousands of messages to hundreds and then within several days I'd be back up in the thousands.

I recently heard about a service aimed at getting you to Inbox Zero called Mailstrom and decided to try it out. It was surprisingly simple to use and within a day or two I had reduced two of my three e-mail accounts down to zero. For one reason or another I couldn't get the other account loaded into Mailstrom, but by this time I had a greater understanding of the delete/archive/sort methods used by Mailstrom. Last night I spent about two hours and pored through roughly 2,000 messages, deleting, moving and archiving until it was done. Nothing in any inbox.

With a completely empty inbox I began digging through various folders and labels (where bulk messages were moved to) - and realized roughly 1 in 4 messages might be useful in the future.
For example:
I send a request for info
someone replies that they will get that to me soon
I thank them
They send me the info requested [!!!]
I thank them again
They reply "no problem"
 - of all these e-mails I really only need to keep the one e-mail with the requested information. I realize its different when e-mailing with friends or family - in that case every singe e-mail counts (right?). I'm not in any hurry to get rid of the unneeded messages, primarily because I'm not running out of storage.

At this time it looks like Mailstrom has a waiting queue due to a large number of people signing up, most likely because of the recent Lifehacker article:

How I Went From 1,000 Emails to Inbox Zero (and Stayed There) with Mailstrom


One helpful folder/label I created for each of the accounts is named "_Deal with it" [the underscore sorts it to the top of the list] this is my actionable items, waiting to be processed. I used to have an "Action Items" folder, but for some reason I find "Deal with it" to be more motivating.

Here's an old post (April 2009) I wrote about Spring (inbox) Cleaning



Do you know of any tips or tricks for dealing with e-mail overload?
    Share them in the comments!

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John