Matt Cutts of Google - Wordcamp 2007
Image by Randy Stewart via Flickr

I admit it. Keeping email under control is not my long suit. I know it’s important and I have listened attentively while experts told me how to manage it, but I have not had great success in applying the theory.

Maybe it’s got something to do with the fact that I am not one of those people who always has everything in order. Every now and again I blitz my intray and general desk area so that I know where things are and am able to work more effectively. But as for following a really ordered system, I don’t score highly.

I’ve given up envying the naturally – or trained to be – orderly people who, if you believe them, never have a piece of paper or any other item out of place.

And the days when I had a secretary to do this sort of thing for me are long gone.

But I still need to do something about the email “pile”.

Which was why I was very pleased to see in my RSS feed today a link to the post by Matt Cutts from Google on how to Start the Year with an Empty Inbox.

This is in the “not necessarily the most efficient in the long term, but fast and painless” category. Basically, Matt shows us how, in three easy steps, we can archive our current Gmail inbox contents (for me it was mostly stuff I know I will never get around to reading) but archiving it in such a way as to be able to find it all again in an “oldinbox”, work on individual items as we choose – and even, if the loss of our inbox contents grieves us, to undo the whole process.

I’ve used a similar process with my Outlook mailbox, for quite a while now.

Sneaky trick it may be and I’m sure it’s not in any “How to Manage Your Email” course, but it works for me.

And re-visiting my Gmail inbox just now, a couple of hours after clearing it, I saw just one item, which I did not need, and got great satisfaction from deleting it. Now the game will be to keep the inbox clear. I know that I will have to check out and deal with a number of items in the “oldinbox”, but I can’t see that being a problem.

Feels good.

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