Search THE READING ROOM

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"Wha-aaat? You have FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY-SEVEN unread E-MAILS in your INBOX!"

That was my cry of astonishment and anguish yesterday when one of my students came into my cabin with her laptop to show me her inbox and to explain why she had not seen an important e-mail I had sent her three weeks ago.

Once I had taken a look at the staggering number of unread e-mails, she did not have to offer any explanation.

I know many people like her. The philosophy at work here seems to be, "We'll get to it later." But before these people know it, another dozen or more e-mails have arrived, and that all-important e-mail has been pushed to the next "page".

Clearly, this is a philosophy that does not work.

How many of you have tons of unread e-mails? Is it really that difficult to maintain a clean inbox?

I have two primary e-mail addresses. Here's a screenshot of my Gmail inbox:


Now here's a screenshot of my Commits Mail inbox:


I have a simple 1-2-3 formula for dealing with e-mail:

1. After you log in and check out your inbox, take quick decisions on "deleting", "marking as spam", and "opening", in that order.

2. Reply ASAP to the e-mails remaining in the inbox.

3. After you reply to each e-mail, take a quick decision on whether to delete it or move it into a folder for future reference. (I have upwards of 40 folders, termed "labels" by Gmail, for each of my e-mail addresses. It may seem like a lot, but believe me, this system is a very efficient one, especially since, additionally, the search function allows me to zero in on ANY e-mail in these folders.)

Want to use this 1-2-3 formula over the weekend to organise your inbox? Be my guest. And send me a screenshot afterwards.
  • By the way, I prefer my desktop to be uncluttered, too. See image below: