The Daily Ping

The Ping is self-aware.

October 9th, 2005

Organizing E-mail

A few weeks ago, someone asked me how I organized my e-mail for maximum efficiency. With entirely too many accounts to check, it certainly is a bit of an ordeal, but let me outline how I handle my main account.

The inbox is used for most incoming mail. Mailing lists are filtered off to a “mailing lists” folder that has subfolders underneath for each list. Ideally, after I reply to an e-mail from someone I know, it is automatically moved out of the inbox and into a folder for specifically that person (under a higher “Individuals folder”). Spam is filtered out to another folder, which I occasionally yet ANOTHER set of filters on to pull out e-mail that may have been inappropriately classified. Unfortunately, my inbox has grown a bit unwieldy as of late, so my system’s not perfect, but I’m generally able to stay on top of things.

Here’s a rough sketch of my folder hierarchy:

InboxProbably SpamPossibly Not SpamRead (theoretically for read, unsorted mail)Individuals    Family        individual folders for each person    High School Friends    College Friends    etc.Mailing Lists    individual mailing list folders

There are a handful of other top-level folders that aren’t used quite as frequently, but that gives you a general overview.

Some people say all mail should stay in your inbox and you should be able to sort and search to find what you need. But, for me, most frequently I need to find e-mail from a specific person and that specific person may have had multiple e-mail addresses and their name listed differently on each account. Having a separate folder for each person is the most efficient way to deal with this. Especially since I keep everything (except spam and some mailing lists). If you’ve sent me an e-mail since 1994, chances are I have it. And if you sent me one before then, I may have it, too.

And, of course, filters play a big role. Fortunately The Bat! has the most complex filtering options of any mail client, so I have a lot of flexibility in terms of automatically filing my e-mail.

E-mail can be a pain to deal with, but going in with a bit of a plan helps.

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