Dealing with Email

Email is a hassle. My inboxes (I have multiple email addresses) get jammed chock-full of marketing trash, “helpful” advertising from my online billpay, bank accounts, and credit cards. It is a pain in the tuckus.

Using filtering rules (a la Outlook Rules) helps some. But my inboxes still get full.

Plus there is the legal end of things: If you run a business, and conduct business through email, you had better keep those records. For IRS audits (to prove that yes, you do use your computer for business) if nothing else.

So why do my various inboxes total over 2,000 emails today?

Because I’m a lazy slob who Should clean it out, but Can’t because I don’t have time?

Yeah. Right.

It’s really because I’m bored and don’t want to deal with it. But the clutter builds and builds until it becomes a big problem that I Need to deal with.

So, I ran an experiment in December 2009.

Each day I checked my email, I sorted out the previous day’s email, spending no more than 5 seconds on each email.


Quick Response
Must Act On

Trash: The easiest one. It’s junk. I delete it.

Quick Response: These are the easy ones. Parental units want to know whether S.O. and I are coming over for the weekend. Reply – Yes, we expect to arrive on Saturday at 10am. Love, see you soon, PookahBoss. Done. Goes to File.

Must Act On: Notices of CC or utility bills coming due. These get starred/highlighted/flagged and a date that they must be acted on.

File: Long term stuff that gets dropped into the appropriate subfolder and forgotten about until I conduct my own personal Monthly Review or Annual Review.

This is what I do for 15 minutes, first thing in the morning. If it takes longer, it takes longer. If it doesn’t take as long, I go to the previous day’s stuff.

By the time my blood has turned my caffeine supply into energetic, interveinous sludge, I’m ready to start the day, and the previous day’s clutter is cleaned up, resolved, scheduled, and filed.

It feels good to start the day with a clean sink!

Leave a Reply