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Email Overload – folders to continue the email diet

Posted Wednesday December 29th, 2010, 11:08 am by

There are two diverse schools of thought on the value of folders as a way to manage email overload.
Today is the case for a good folder structure, tomorrow the case against using folders.

Those in favour say that a good folder structure is an excellent way to keep your emails under control and manage the email overload, just like having an old fashioned paper filing system.  The benefits of a good folder structure include, quicker to find emails, you can use rules to divert the less important emails automatically to folders, easier to manage in terms of clearing out and hence improve compliance.

On my quest to reduce the size of my mailbox, I am going through those folders relating to old projects and deleting all the ephemeral ones, eg confirming meetings, sending attachments which are now filed in the main project file etc.  Also importantly, all emails which by law should have been deleted as they contain personal information is no longer needed, eg CVs for recruitment exercises.

If you subscribe to the SMART goal principle then sorting out several smaller folders rather than one large one gives you a sense of achievement in the quest to manage the email overload. Using folders means slimming down the inbox can be broken up into smaller chunks. A good (email) folder structure is also at the heart of the David Allen’s Getting Things Done philosophy as it helps you prioritise.

My new book ‘Brilliant Email‘ contains several examples of how others (from MDs to PAs) have used folder structures to help them be more productive.

What’s your view on the use of folders?

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