Developing A Personal Email Management Strategy

Last week I emptied my inbox completely. And from this point forward I pledge (to myself I guess) that I will only “check” email if I am going to “deal” with my email.
Every email that lands in my inbox and is not filtered into a specific mailbox will be dealt with: archived, deleted, responded to.

I was motivated to this undertaking and commitment by a blog post, Email = EFAIL, I learned of via Twitter. I’m not going to repeat all the pearls of wisdom from that article, I recommend that you read it. After re-tweeting the article, Aaron pointed me to Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero talk, which in turn lead me to the 43 Folders Inbox Zero series which I am working my way through.

Let me share my new strategy:

  • I will check email only when I have the time to review it
  • My inbox only shows unread messages
  • Filters will move read mail out of my inbox after 3 days and into the appropriate folder if I don’t do it first.
  • I am using 3 flags: ToDo, Important, Later and associated saved searches so that I can pull up these specific lists.

The other thing that I plan on doing is transitioning even more towards using Delicious and Twitter to share links with people rather than using email. I encourage others to do the same.

I’ll let you know how it goes over the coming weeks. And please post any links or resources or your own strategies for dealing with email overload.

Find out more in Email Management Strategy Phase 2: IMAP with Gmail iPhone and Thunderbird.