Use The Five Folder System To Finally Organise Your Email Inbox

Use The Five Folder System To Finally Organise Your Email Inbox

We’ve come a long way from the simple “trusted trio” method of organising our inbox, and for many of us our email is as disorganised as it’s ever been. To beat back the tide, this five folder system gives you a bit more flexibility to clean things up, but still keep everything you need just one click away.

Fast Company outlines the whole system at the link below, but here are the five folders in question:

  1. Inbox: the inbox is a holding pen. Emails shouldn’t stay here any longer than it takes for you to file them into another folder. The exception to this rule is when you respond immediately and are waiting for an immediate response.
  2. Today: Everything that requires a response today.
  3. This Week: Everything that requires a response before the end of the week.
  4. This Month/Quarter: — Everything that needs a longer-term response. Depending on your role, you many need a monthly folder. Others can operate on a quarterly basis.
  5. FYI: Most items I receive are informational. If I think I may need to reference an email again, I’ll save it to this folder.

So this way, instead of organising your emails by sender or by subject line, you organise them by priority and type, largely around when you want to do something with the message and how important it is to move on it in the near future. Similarly, this system works well with search, which we’ve mentioned you should use instead of folders, because it gives you the feeling of a clean inbox without just archiving everything, and lets you search for specific things, but still gives you some real organisation.

For the whole system, including some tips on how to set it up, check out the link below.

The Only Five Email Folders Your Inbox Will Ever Need [Fast Company via Swissmiss]


  • #5 is a common practice but not really what email is designed for.

    Our IT certainly seem to discourage it with a 1GB mailbox quota, yet a (seemingly) unlimited user folder quota.

    • trick is to archive it in the correct folder pattern. Archives don’t count towards the 1GB quota (we have the same),

      only risk is ensuring the archive is not in a local drive that you could lose. Ours doesn’t allow archive on a network drive so quite risky.

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