The Filtered Mail Inbox

irst thing in the morning, open the mail app, sort the inbox by sender.

My very simple approach to manage email and retain sanity:

  • First thing in the morning, open the mail app and sort the inbox by sender.
    • This is (still) not possible to do on a smartphone or tablet as far as I know, but I find it extremely convenient and facilitating.
  • Because your inbox may have dozens of messages of varying relevance and urgency, sorting by sender is the easiest and fastest way to:
    • Move every single message from Inbox to four very distinct destinations (folders), which are:
      • Trash
      • Archive (organised in subfolders by category)
      • Reading
      • Actionate (choose you your name, this is the most important folder)
    • You probably noticed this is directly based on the “Getting Things Done” method by David Allen, whose book I really recommend reading .
  • The process of sorting is very straightforward.
    • Unnecessary email goes to Trash. Emails that should be kept but do not require a response or some kind of action go to the Archive. If you are not sure it is ready to be archived, send it first to the Actionate folder. The Reading folder is for newsletters, articles and “interesting” material you can read later. The “actionate” folder gets the important stuff: messages that require a response of any kind, generate tasks, require decisions etc.
  • In a sense, the Actionate is the real inbox: it groups all and only incoming messages that are really relevant and need attention. Now it just a matter of dealing with each one as most appropriate.
    • Once each message is answered, taken care of or does not need any follow-up, it can be archived or deleted.
  • I really like this approach for its simplicity:
    • It is fast and simple to separate the messages, keeping the inbox clean.
    • All and only the important messages that need attention are in a single place.