Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Delete it or move it – how to keep your email inbox clean

Just like a physical inbox that should be the new stuff – not stuff you are working on, your virtual one should be keep clean as well.  By clean, I mean if you have read the email, make a decision what to do with it.  I am suggesting that your Inbox should be new emails only. 

Before you move everything to a 'save for later' folder, don't just move it to keep the inbox clean.  Think about where it really should move to.  Ideally we should touch it once.  
Think about that physically junk mail, many experts recommend having a recycle bin nearby when bringing in the mail.  Junk mail then goes directly to that bin.  If it doesn't go to that bin in goes to a designated place based on how you need to deal with it later.  Bills, Coupons, Taxes, Misc to keep, etc.  So based on that idea, here are my three actions to take on email.
  1. Delete it – you have read it and don’t need it anymore.  Do this for those emails especially the ones that if you log on to the related account you can view again there.  Example – Amazon tells you that you purchased something.  Yes, I purchased that, thanks for the notice. Then I say delete that email.  If it has a tracking number because it has shipped so might want to save it for a short time – look at the next point. 
  2. Move it for temporary saving– let’s say you have received notice of something shipping or something you don't need to do now, but will soon like paying a bill and you need this email to remind you.  Or it is something that you want to reference later but not long term.  You want it available in the email account, so you don’t have to go to another website.  Have a folder that is for short term holding.  In the case of bills, maybe have a folder that says 'Bills to be Paid'.  This folder then should be cleaned out periodically. 
  3. Move it for longer term saving – these emails are ones you never want to get rid of.  For these I recommend having several folders.  I have Family, Church, bills, and Reference.  In my miniatures account I have also folders that are specific to a particular event or subject.  The folder system here can be as simple or complex as you like. However I recommend to keep it on the simple side to make it easier to figure out which to go into but also easy to find later. Note for my miniature emails, the point of the folders for me is to separate the groups I am on.  I actually move them to these folders and delete them once read, or move them to another folder if I keep. More on that in tomorrow's post.

Other folders that might be useful

Let’s say you don’t have a secondary email account to manage misc email.  Alternatively you could have 'misc ads' email folder.  Mind that this isn’t the junk mail or spam folder that your provider has – if you move it there it might get reported as spam and then you don’t get the ones you want.  I often find emails in my junk mail folder that I think shouldn’t be.  The most likely reason is that someone decided they didn’t want this advertising mail and they reported it as spam, but spam is not mail you signed up for even if it was unintentional.

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