Stop Using Your Email Inbox Like A Filing Cabinet

It's easy to let old emails pile up over time and disappear into a large, unorganized mass in your inbox. You might think to yourself that someday, perhaps, you'll need old messages so you should store them forever. Unclutterer recommends you stop thinking of your inbox as a filing cabinet and get rid of old emails completely.

Photo remixed from Alexander Staubo.

Unclutterer suggestss a simple four step process for clearing out your inbox:

  1. Decide what each message is.
  2. Decide what must be done.
  3. Do what must be done.
  4. Delete the message (or archive it in a separate folder, if that is what your employer directs).

The point is that you delete old messages that you don't need to reference at some point instead of letting them pile up and distract you when you're looking for something important. If you're always searching around for that one important email in a sea of junk, spam, and useless notes, this method might be a good approach to take.

Your email inbox is not a filing cabinet [Unclutterer]


    Sounds exactly like using your email as a filing cabinet! Especially the "... archive it in a separate folder..." bit.
    I'm a "never delete" person, partly cause I'm lazy and partly cause having EVERY email, even the mundane ones, has saved my arse on numerous occasions. Search is so quick and accurate these days that provided you have done recollection of date, recipient and/or message, you can find anything in 2 minutes at most

      They are saying don't use your 'inbox' as a filing cabinet, not don't use your 'email' as a fling cabinet.

    I really don't understand the whole business of organising emails. My email is a stream, much like twitter, fb etc. Most recent messages at the top, older ones below. No deleting, robust searching.

      Most email systems are gradually trending towards the 'large storage, strong search' model, and have been since gmail came onto the scene. Even exchange is pretty good at it now, I can search gigabytes of archives in under a second through the web interface.

    It amazes me that people have so many issues with email. Unless its spam and gets deleted, categorize you mail into relevant folders. You may not even want to read it now or later but it will be there, somewhere. Got an email from a relative? Put it in a folder for Aunty Jan. Got an email from the Tax Office? Dont lose it, File it in you Tax Folder. Of course computers die and we never back up our files so mail clients like Outlook Express are lost and the mail files are hard to find/back up. Use an online email product like GMail or Hotmail and get your mail from anywhere. Online mail can usually be downloaded if you need a copy.

      Couldn't agree more. Putting emails in folders is even easier when you use an automatic tool for it, like Tagwolf. It's an intelligent email filing assistant that files MS Outlook emails with a single click.

    I had some valued stored emails from long lost relatives . My hard drive crushed losing all that was stored on my computer ..along with my relatives email addresses. It was with outlook express . Is there any way of restoring?

    I have been using this method at work for a few years now:

    And of course like everyone else, Gmail in my personal world.

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