I made huge inroads into de-cluttering my digital desktop today.
That’s right, baby. Nothing in the inbox! I went from 2985 messages down to 0. Outlook loves me, so does my phone client. And I know exactly what I have left to deal with.
I have tried for the last 5+ months since coming on board at LogiSense to use my Inbox as a staging area for the things that I have to do. The trouble is that as things can’t be immediately responded to, they start to build up. Miss a couple work days and look out, that beast grows quickly.
While watching Scott Hanselman present in the clip from WebStock12 on how to filter out the noise, it was like a slap in the face when I realized how much weight this actually was. I have almost 3,000 things I need to deal with. It was a recurring, screaming thing in my head. I would make great gains, be –60 on the day or even better, but then be absent for two days and fall 100’s of messages further behind.
I kept thinking I can never get back on top of this. And while I wouldn’t really call it beating myself up, I knew it was weighing on me.
To get going, I started by creating a couple rules per Scott’s recommendation. I’m going to share the gist of this so that others can get ideas of how to sort their own and create the appropriate filters to clean out their inboxes.
The first rule to create was to filter out any email that wasn’t sent to me. I had one exception: if the email was addressed to a group that I am apart of (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org) then leave it in my inbox. Next, I created a filter where I was only a CC on the message and directed those to an Inbox – CC folder. We have some automation accounts that send us notifications (failed builds, for example) so I created rules for those as well. And finally, again per Scott’s suggestion, I created a rule that said anything from one of my bosses went into a golden folder for immediate undivided attention (my company recently started following me on Twitter, so it’s probably best I say something like that).
The last step was to run the rules against my inbox. I dropped to about 600 messages almost instantly. The scrollbar actually had context again, it actually meant something!
I then decided that anything that was older than 3 weeks was instantly on the chopping block. I moved all these “old” messages into an Inboxchive folder, then quickly ran a couple of searches over that folder for important messages or messages that relate to specific customers I’m working with. I threw those back into my inbox and marked everything else as read.
With 120 messages left I was easily able to sort things into the appropriate bins, flag them for follow-up if required, and respond to the ones I had yet to respond to. It took about 45 minutes to do all this.
I feel like the self-perpetuated pressure of an inbox that has grown by about 125 messages per week is finally gone. Tonight, I am going to sleep better. I actually feel lighter.
Hope this helps and/or encourages someone out there there to clear a little clutter.