Monday, January 20, 2014

Clean Out Your Inbox Week Jan 19-25

This week I will be participating in Clean Our Your Inbox Week.  How many emails do you have in your inbox?  Do you use it as a sort of genealogy to-do list that never seems to get finished? 

Cleaning out my inbox is something that I personally really, really, need to do.  As of right now, I have 31, 036 messages in my inbox.  No, didn't read that wrong, I didn't type it wrong...I have 31, 036 messages in my inbox.  Insane!  Yes, I know that is insane!  I actually spend time on my inbox everyday. Lots of time actually.  This isn't the result of spam.  My spam filter is working fine.  I haven't been hit by a nasty virus.  There are actually 31, 036 emails that I want to read and act on in my inbox.  I actually have more than that number as some are dumped into folders and I'm not counting those.  That number is just the ones I haven't read and acted on.  Sometimes I have read them, just not acted on them. 99%+ are genealogy related emails. If they decided to do a show "Hoarders: the E-mail Edition" I would get picked for the pilot episode, I'm sure!  I'm willing to bet some of the other top contenders would be genealogists as well.

How did it get this bad?  Oh, well.... you know... *blush* a few left over each day adds up over time! The oldest e-mail in my inbox is dated Jun 29, 2003.   Probably a few more have arrived while I write this.  How it got this way isn't so important.  Right?  What is important is to *fix* it.  And to fix it now, right away, before it gets worse!

So, what shall I do to fix this?  Some people recommend deleting the whole thing, and starting fresh.  I'm not doing that.  I'm not!  I'm not ready....*feeling much more sympathetic to the Hoarders I have watched on TV now....yep...much more sympathetic indeed...*

So what *will* I do, or what do I suggest you do, for Clean Out Your Inbox Week 2014?  Here is a short list:

Create Folders. I have already done this, but I'll do it some more. I'll create more folders. Sub-folders inside of Folders if I have to. I'll create folders for surnames, and folders for locations.   Folders for my DNA matches, folders for ...well, you get the idea!

Act on each email after it is read *right away*.  I have heard of people using this method with paper that tends to accumulate.  The idea is to touch each piece of paper only once as it crosses your desk.  Pick it up, deal with it, send it away. I actually use this method at my snail mail box.  I have a recycle bin at my mailbox so flyers and other junk mail can go right into it.  I open the mail as I walk into the house and discard the envelopes right away.   The plan is to apply the same method to my inbox.   Open the email, read it, and do whatever I want to do with the contents right away.

Mail rules. Have mailing lists and newsletters go to folders for them so they don't clutter my main inbox.  I actually already do this for the most part.  You set up rules that tell your email client to send mail from lists to a certain folder and not your main inbox.

Devote some time to the backlog.  I will spend some time each day this week (ok, lets face it, its gonna take more than a week to get through *my* backlog of emails.)   

Join me in Clean Out Your Inbox Week! Yours can't possibly be worse than mine!  I'll report in on how I'm doing once in awhile in the comments below, and I'd love to hear the starting point and progress from others participating in Clean Out Your Inbox Week in the comments as well.  Surely, I'm not alone in e-mail hoarding???  

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