Battling The Inbox

by JL Beeken on 12-28-2010

It’s hard to believe that my Inbox is full of unread email going back as far as September.

As you’ve heard ad nauseam, my computer crashed the end of August. I’ve been chipping away at the email for weeks, in between restoring over 12,000 photographs, mostly reading the most recent and generally treading water.

Yesterday I had a spurt of energy and got rid of the easiest 175 of them over several hours. I did this by using the Filter option in Thunderbird. That’s an amazing thing and more useful than I’d ever imagined. Search brings up a list of emails containing specific words and I’m able to send them to the trash faster.

I searched for words like webinar (obviously missed whatever it was), special offer/sale (too many of them) and that got me down to the last 86. Because it’s holiday time there’s not the usual 30-40 coming in everyday so there’s some hope I can beat this by New Year’s.

Convert To, Thunderbird

Ever vigilant for new organizational help I hit on another idea. Right click on any email and there’s an option for Convert To: Event or Task. I don’t keep a Task list in Thunderbird; that’s for FreeMind and The Action Machine. But I do use the calendar daily. Any single-action email that wants me to go somewhere and do something, that’s not time-critical, is now doled out 2 per day on my schedule with an alarm set. If I’m busy when the alarm goes off, there’s a snooze button.

First, I Copy Link Location, then Convert To Event, and paste the link as an attachment. When the alarm goes off I can go straight to the URL without looking at the email.

Of course, I’m never going to let my Inbox get out of control again so this is just an interim solution.

That left about 40 html newsletters. What were they doing in my Inbox anyway? Anyone sending out multi-article newsletters by email is talking too much. Most of them are round-ups of blog posts for the month anyway. Dumped all those into Google Reader where I visit daily until I’m cross-eyed.

That leaves two newsletters that can’t be read any other way. They’re both about how to use my mind and my time better. That leaves 16 emails and if I’m not way smarter and more efficient by next week I’m unsubscribing.

My Inbox is now sacred space again. Family, friends and website visitors.

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