How to organize your e-mail folders

sleep is the enemyDo you keep your e-mail in folders?

Or do you leave your messages in the inbox?

Or do you delete them all?

What should you keep?

What should you throw away?

Your goals and your priorities should determine how to organize your e-mail.

There are three kinds of e-mail messages:

  1. Priority (helps you meet one of the priorities you establish).
  2. Spam/Unwanted
  3. In-between stuff (not important enough to be a priority, but not spam, either)

Set up one folder for each priority. As you act on each message, move it to its “priority” folder.

Spam/Unwanted. Use a spam filter and set up rules to get rid of other unwanted messages. If you find yourself deleting every message from a sender, save time by setting up a rule that will automatically get rid of every message your receive from them.

In-between stuff. Set up a “Z” folder. I call it a “Z” folder so that it appears below your priorities.

Going through your e-mail will now constantly remind you of your priorities. Every time you act on a priority, the folder reminds you: “This is a priority.” Every time you act on a non-priority, the “Z” folder reminds you: “This is not so important.”

Furthermore, the system allows you to keep each priority’s messages together.

This system is fluid – as your priorities change,you should change your e-mail folders.

[Image: sleep is the enemy by striatic, on Flickr]


About Mark P. Holtzman

Chair of Accounting Department at Seton Hall University. PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Worked at Deloitte's New York Office. BSBA from Hofstra University.

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