Inbox Zero

   29 July 2008, terribly early in the morning

Matt recently wrote about how he uses the Inbox Zero method to manage his email. The general idea is that you don’t use your email inbox as a dumping ground for all the emails you need to deal with. You can read all about Inbox Zero on Merlin Mann’s web site. Like Matt I find the system works pretty well.

For quite a while now I’ve had two folders where I put email: my inbox, and an archive. The archive folder is located on my Mac, so the only email I could see anywhere and everywhere was the email in my inbox. (The inbox is available everywhere because I’m using IMAP.) This set up worked reasonably well save for the fact that if I got lazy about dealing with the emails in my inbox the folder would balloon up to a few hundred messages, and I’d need to go through and sort out what I could archive and what needed to stay in the inbox so I could look at it later. And that situation is precisely what Inbox Zero is trying to remedy.

Now I have 3 additional folders stored on Dreamhost’s IMAP servers: hold, reply-to, and archive. (Gina Trapini’s trusted trio.) I put email I want access to, but don’t need to deal with, in the hold folder. The reply-to folder is for stuff I need to reply to, hence the name. The archive folder is stuff I’ve dealt with and don’t need to see anymore. I copy everything from this archive folder to the big archive that lives on my Mac each day. These folders are on Dreamhost’s servers, so I can see them at work, or anywhere else I may be.

And that’s more than you probably wanted to know about how I manage my email.

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