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Take control of your email and achieve inbox zero (limedaring.com)
46 points by limedaring on June 27, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

The multiple-inbox + starring trick is really key. Every morning I'll dive into my emails starting with the oldest and archive+next using the ] shortcut while starring any emails I have to act on later. Once I've gone through all my Inbox emails, I work through the starred emails.

Your inbox should be like the lobby of the emergency room—that's where you do your triage.

Exactly. My inbox has only emails I wasn't expecting to get. Everything, and I do mean everything, else gets filtered into an appropriate category. So family, friends, mailing lists, etc. are all tagged appropriately and not a one of them makes it into my inbox proper. Boring parts of mailing lists and whatnot get marked as read and I sort through the others as I have time.

At this point, very little goes into my inbox to begin with, and most of what does is important.

I tend to get about fifteen emails a day, and only two or three actually demand any kind of response, so these sorts of articles make me wonder whether I should feel grateful or lonely.

Inbox Zero has become super easy for me since I started using http://www.boomeranggmail.com/

The reminding feature (if you don't hear back after a couple of days, reminds you to follow up) is super interesting, I'll probably add that to my system now. Thanks!

http://sanebox.com is helpful too if you don't want to configure all those folders in gmail.

Taking a few minutes to configure folders is better than paying $60/yr, IMHO. :)

The fundamental assumption here is that having an empty inbox is a desirable goal. Why? Is it just the satisfaction of seeing an empty screen? I don't get it, seems basically pointless. Is there any real evidence that achieving that goal would improve my productivity or make me more successful?

If you correlate your inbox with "things to do/read/act on", then of course, an empty inbox is a desirable goal. I certainly get too many emails and it's too important to me to respond to everyone that emails me. If they were mixed up in a messy inbox, I might miss an important message.

How many is too many? Why is it important to respond to everyone? This seems like "cargo cult" style productivity, spending a lot of time on activities that look like work but don't actually generate much value.

People take the time to email me directly. Even if it isn't something worth my time ("Hey I see you're doing a startup! How about you quit that and join mine?"), I'm still going to respond with "No." Or a canned response.

Consider it a personal philosophy — if someone takes the time to email me, I'm going to respond. It might not seem to give much value, but it actually makes me and my personal brand look better. Do you want to appear like a douche by not even deigning to respond?

Thunderbird seems to struggle with more than 2000 or so messages in the inbox, I've discovered. I've currently got about 2100 and little problems start cropping up - currently it marks all incoming messages as junk even though I have all the junk filters disabled on every account. It would be worth it for me to get the inbox down a bit, at least!

What limedaring said, plus not archiving is known to reduce loading and searching speed of GMail.

Not everyone is using GMail. Lotus Notes searching is really fast even with a huge inbox. Maybe the choice of tools is the problem here?

... Lotus Notes ... choice of tools is the problem ...


I would like a single click shortcut to filtering message like these out of my inbox. How does one make “Filter messages like these” faster?

Archive+next using the ] shortcut is a very fast way to plow through one message. Maybe 100 ms. Because it takes only a single keystroke.

But "Filter messages like these" takes several clicks and at least 10 seconds (maybe more) for intermediate pages to load. The filter is usually correct. How can I do that?

I use imapfilter for date-based expiration. Most of the cruft that accumulates in my inbox are straightforward notifications that don't really warrant manual refiling. Imapfilter is amazingly versatile and configs are portable. Sparrow and iPhone for scanning and Wanderlust/Emacs for more heavy duty reading and response. Mu for indexing and searching GBs of email.

I have two folders - 'archive' and 'inbox'. Once 'inbox' gets to be a large number (3-4k usually), I'll just move everything into 'archive', if only to make searching on the iphone a little faster. Otherwise, why organize when you can search?

Filtering is the key step in organizing your mailbox. I subscribe to LKML, FreeBSD-Current, Full-Disclosure, among others and would have drowned under the deluge without procmail.

This was one of the most helpful articles I've read. I don't have anything constructive to say - but thanks!

I'm a firm believer in the label + archive technique ... works really well for me!

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