We’ve long recommended filing away email into folders for better organisation, but a study by IBM Research finds that just using the search function can be much faster than navigating through folders to find old messages.
The problem, IBM says, is that people are relying too much on their inbox to to show them their to-do list. Finding those emails by digging through folders took 58 seconds, on average, while merely searching for them took 17 seconds.
They argue that filing these messages off into folders was more of a reaction to too much email rather than an actual productivity strategy. After all, if you aren’t using your email as a to-do list — and you shouldn’t be — there’s no reason you should have to look through folders to find those messages; Gmail’s search is already pretty great.
Of course, if you have filters that automatically apply labels as messages come in – -which tell you at a glance whether the email is important or what it’s regarding — that’s probably OK, as long as you don’t manually search through that label later. Hit the link to read the full study.