Before I had a BlackBerry, I had a client in Mississauga who I had to visit a couple of times a month. I would spend the hour or so in a cab (both ways) either preparing for my meeting or filing my inbox. When I worked at com.motion, I got into the habit of using my Friday nights to file my email. Looking back on both exercises, they were a huge waste of time.
I used to have folders and subfolders for everything and as a result everything devolved into a rather arbitrary mess. When I was looking for old emails, I would have to try and decode myself – what was I thinking on that day, that moment when I decided to file the email? What was my raison d’être for that short, fleeting moment that was so clouded to me weeks, months or even days later?
We’ve been through two email systems in my time at Tribal. Lotus Notes was…not my favourite experience and now Outlook. It was sometime before the planned migration that I decided to stop filing everything just in case I lost all my folders and sometime after the migration to Outlook that I decided to stop filing anything again. The truth is, the outlook search function works better than my filing system. I can search by sender, by subject and by keyword. It takes a bit of time to figure out what someone else was thinking when they sent me the email but less time than stalking through my unorganised filing system.
As a result of my non-filing approach and my general suspicion of man’s inhumanity to man that prevents me from deleting emails (although I do slip from time to time and when attachments are more than 5mb, but that’s a different story), three years later, I’ve now achieved what I’m calling “Inbox 36,953”. And climbing.
I do have many emails about how to increase your productivity through Inbox Zero…they’re in my inbox…somewhere.