Some tips to manage email

August 21, 2010

Are you drowning in your inbox?

I try to keep keep all my inboxes to zero. Whatever I have in my inbox requires action. Once the action is taken, and action could be just answer quickly, then I archive them.

I have unified inbox, meaning that my inbox has emails from 5 different accounts.

I have the following folders on all my accounts: inbox (sure…), Waiting For, Read Review, and the rest of achieves. I don’t have them by people but rather by location. I go up to 2 levels of depth, so something like this:

  • inbox (aiming to zero, only things that should have some action)
  • read review (things want to read but are not urgent so I don’t want them in my inbox)
  • waiting for (air ticket for tomorrow, a delivery yet to arrive, etc…)
  • friends
    • local (I don’t live where my family is)
    • home (my friends in my home country, school, university…)
    • abroad
  • family
    • wife
    • mum
    • kids
    • other
  • work
    • waiting for (sometimes I mix private email with work stuff… bad bad)
    • job 1 (if you do have more than one job, then here)
    • job 2
  • personal
    • key stuff (sort of starred items, email with driving license, passport, tax, passwords)
    • statements
      • bank (if you receive a lot of e-statments then create a folder with statements, then bank, telephone, electricity, etc…)
    • jokes
    • travel
    • shopping
    • newsletters
    • other

Then some tips to manage large amount of email:

You can keep your responses short and add a signature following the tips.

“Treat all email responses like SMS text messages, using a set number of letters per response. Since it’s too hard to count letters, we count sentences instead. is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be three sentences or less. It’s that simple.”

Example signature:
Q: Why is this email three sentences or less?

Alternatively you can add “Sent from iPhone” under your short responses.  People don’t expect long responses when you’re on your phone.

Sure, count on me!!
Sent from iPhone.

If you do really have an email problem you can create a ‘VIP’ filter.  Add your boss, close friends and family. Flag them red and throw them in a separate folder. This is the first place I check every morning.

If you are using Gmail or Google apps and you are giving away your email address to a lot of sites you try or places that potentially can spam you, they you can give your regular email +name of site or group or whatever, example: You can then filter those emails into a specific spammy folder you check periodically.

If you are using apple Mail or similar program and you really can’t cope with the inflow of emails, you can create a filter that auto-responds to all unopened emails > 14 days old w/the following message:

Your email (below) is now 14 days old and has not been opened.  To minimize email buildup your email has now been placed in the archive.  Should you still require a response simply respond back and you’ll automatically be added to the priority queue.  Thank you.

Good luck

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