Thanks for all the feedback to my post, Making More Time To Write: Cleaning Up Your Inbox and Improving Your E-mail System.
Thanks especially to Travis for pointing me to Mailplane, a desktop Mac app for Gmail users:
When I used the Gmail interface for my email (via a nice little Mac app named Mailplane), I organized it with the Multiple Mailboxes plugin which is available from the “labs” link. From there, I created various Getting Things Done type boxes where I would file email as it came in. This made the inbox really an inbox, not where things lived indefinitely.
LOVE this program! I have a public Gmail account as well as a private account, and Mailplane makes it much easier to switch between them. Mailplane has a ton of other useful features as well. I'm also using the Multiple Mailboxes plugin Travis mentioned. Thank you, Travis!
How are the rest of you doing with your e-mail box clean-up? Because of the changes I've made in my e-mail system and flow, my inboxes are STILL under control, yay!
Here are a few other tips and comments from readers:
From Nathan Carriker:
Personally, I scan email often and reply to actual personal communications IMMEDIATELY, before they get lost in the haze. Everything else I know I can scan for later, and will be deleted automatically at some far flung future date after it’s faded to utter, total irrelevance anyway so I just ignore them.
From Meryl K Evans:
Here’s a good habit to have: when an email newsletter comes in and you find yourself deleting it without a thought… stop. That’s the time to unsubscribe to it. Being the organized freak I am, I tend to keep inbox clean on a daily basis.
I prefer to do that than risk a pile up of new messages. I address every message as it comes in — just like regular mail:
1. File / archive / delete.
2. Address if only takes a couple of minutes.
3. Leave if requires more time — but I don’t leave it long.
I use yahoo email, and I have folders for just about everything. So, if I’m not sure I want to delete something, I move it to the appropriate folder. That way, it is out of my inbox, but still available if I need to refer to it later.
I’m a huge fan of Merlin Mann’s Inbox Zero. I get really obsessive if my inbox has stuff in it, lol. I have a system of folders for keeping things I need, and a series of filters for moving stuff out of my inbox that doesn’t need my immediate attention (like twitter notifications, for example). That way, it’s not in my inbox (and not triggering things like my phones notification system), but I can still see its new by looking at Gmail and seeing that a particular folder has as unread count.
Since I own the domain my mail is on, I set my email address up as a catchall, so anything @ my domain will reach me. What this means for me is that I can use different email addresses for different things. So for social networks, my email address is social@mydomain and for news sites my email address is news@mydomain. It all gets to my inbox, but it is easily filtered based on the to: field in the header.
If you own your own domain and use Google Apps to host your mail, this is easy to set up.
From Daisy Whitney:
I too want to reduce the amount of times I check email but I have also moved to web only access via gmail and I don’t use client software which reduces the decision making time on whether to keep an email in a folder or delete. I keep all non salesy emails such as those from clients, friends, editors, agent, etc with the arhive feature so I can move quickly out of inbox but find in a search in seconds.
Message filters. Make them your friend.
Multiple mailboxes (addresses) for the different personas. And/or folders where messages are shuttled to. My geek email address has a folder for my ham radio stuff and another for my webhost. My author email address has a folder for my publisher and another for the publisher’s marketing/promotion list.
Thunderbird email client. Not sure I understand nor like the latest release but I’m still learning how to use it. The “junk” button is great in that it learns from me what to consider junk then starts shuttling the junk ones before I even see them.
And speaking of spam, make sure you are truly a subscriber to that newsletter before you hit the “unsubscribe me” link at the bottom. The vast majority of email spam/trojans/viruses are geared toward M$Outlook.
I’m not into FB (although I have an account) and certainly not Twitter (no interest whatsoever) and rely heavily on email for communication. I also am slowly getting out from the Yahoo!Groups and finding forums instead. More organized, less crap, less Yahoo! privacy concerns.
To see the rest of the tips and comments, see the messages posted at the end of my original post on e-mail clean-up.. Thanks for your feedback, everyone!