I’ve been enjoying my first avalanche-free week in a few years. It’s quite lovely, but it took some pain to get here; I gutted and completely redid how I filtered my personal email in a last-ditch attempt to keep it under control.
I’d had a system in the past that worked reasonably well, but over time, as more companies switched to reaching me through email, my original plan no longer sufficed. I do sometimes miss the day that a single ‘bacn’ folder could hold all the Authorized Pork Product Email™ I received, but that day is long past.
It took me a while to see the problem: it wasn’t that I wasn’t trying to filter my email. I was, but it wasn’t granular enough. I had a catchall ‘bacn’ folder that took so long to process that I could only talk myself into sifting through it every couple of months, and it was a drudging, painful process.
Worse, I knew I wasn’t looking at the ‘bacn’ folder, so there would be bacn-worthy emails that I just wouldn’t see, so I’d still let them go to my inbox. The end result was an inbox that was perennially stuffed to the gills, but never with anything personal. Unsurprisingly, this did not make me want to open my inbox, which made the problem worse.
So … I gutted it. Start to finish. Revamped everything.
Instead of a catchall ‘bacn’ folder, I now have a general ‘zzz’ category, with many sub-categories, like:
(‘zzz’ is a nice double-entendre: not only does it alphabetize last, it’s what I can look at to pass the time when I’m not sleeping.)
In addition to those ‘zzz’ sub-folders, I’ve got additional non-bacn (non-zzz now) folders that categorize more aggressively now:
- One for each of the mailing lists I participate in: Huntsville pens list, my local group of friends, Freecycle,
- Automated emails from my websites
- One folder per social media site I get emails from: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, G+, and I swear to $deity that if LinkedIn doesn’t shut up they’re going to get their own, too
…and the end result? When my phone performs the beep that says I have email (a text-to-speech beep that says “Email, personal, inbox”) … it’s from a real person. My folders/filters only show up in the sidebar if they have unread messages in them, and it’s much easier to clear out <5 messages on a single topic than it is to settle in and sort through a ‘bacn’ folder that could have anything from upcoming sales from clothing stores I like, to notices about bands I like, to the next cooking class available in Huntsville.
Here’s hoping this works, long-term.