How do you organize your personal emails?

Despite Merlin Mann’s seeming change in approach, I have used the concept on Inbox Zero since at least 2006.

I approach my inbox similarly to the may I treat my simple lifestyle. I have arrived at the point I want to be and work to keep it that way. In that regard, the inbox has been a wild success.

My inbox is kept at zero.

When e-mail is delivered, I deal with it immediately. Then the e-mail is deleted. Easy peasy.

Sure, there are times when an e-mail cannot be dealt with immediately. When that happens, the e-mail remains in the inbox as a reminder that I need to deal with it. This doesn’t happen often, but the reality is that is does occur.

The true magic of this approach is that I receive very little e-mail. There is a small group of people who have my e-mail address. When the address is added to some company’s list and I receive e-mail, I address it. I either change settings, delete it, unsubscribe, or block the sender. I am aggressive with blocking e-mail.

Almost every e-mail I receive is wanted. What is not, is addressed as above.

The result is there is little e-mail that comes my way. What does is generally wanted.

I have no folders, directories, or kept e-mail. Presently, I have no e-mail other than in my spam folder. That auto-deletes on schedule.

Back when I began dealing with my digital clutter, I looked at how e-mail flowed through my life. Noting that it was full of chores, I sought to reduce that. I unsubscribed from everything I could. I reduced where I shared my e-mail address. I changed how I interacted with others to reduce the “chores”.

I got to where I wanted to be. I then created the procedures to keep that inbox empty. I have done the same with my physical stuff. After a long journey, I got to where I wanted to be. Now, much like the e-mail, I create procedures to keep my stuff at the same level of efficiency (my journey has been about efficiency, not minimalism although they share similarities).

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