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sthomas51004

productivity Cleaning out my Inbox

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I have started the long process of cleaning out my email folders. I have/had a bunch of folders with stuff in that I wanted to keep. I started going through it all and emailing stuff to my EN account that I want to keep. This is great! I'm almost to the point where everything I do is in EN. I have even started making a new note for each day and making lists and notes in that one note. It is great to see what I can get done in one day. Seeing it get checked off has been keeping me motivated. I am also using EN for my photography business. It really helps to keep everything organized and I love not having stacks of paper!

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Totally ditto. While my inbox was never way out of hand (for years it usually had between 20 and 80 emails, and never more than 100 except after breaks from internet connectivity), it always felt too big, and like a burden. As I began to adopt some GTD actions, I began sending all sorts of to-read, to-watch, etc., emails to Evernote, where they're better organized and where they don't crowd out things I really should respond to ASAP. I've finally internalized that no to-do belongs in the inbox, so those are now also helpfully managed in Evernote. When I get an email I need to act on, unless the only action is the response to sender, I forward it to Evernote and tag appropriately. Right now my inbox has three items, all personal emails from old friends that I should and want to reply to this week. I've also cut down on my starred emails (which I almost never checked) by forwarding many of those to Evernote. And I've gotten rid of most of my Gmail labels by forwarding all the emails in those labels to Evernote, where I can access them more quickly, organize them better, and act on them more often.

That's not even getting into all the stuff I'm now clipping to Evernote that in the past I wouldn't have bothered to bookmark (since who goes back into most of their bookmarks?) or otherwise save. We can do the full Evernote lovefest on another thread (or many other threads); since this topic is "Cleaning out my inbox," I'll just say that, with a little bit of discipline, I expect at some point this week my inbox will be at zero for the first time in a couple years, thanks to Evernote.

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I got down to zero on Friday, and I've been there since. I know it's a little silly to be celebrating four consecutive days of inbox zero, but any of you who have gotten there after shooting for that goal for a while know it feels great. It's amazing how, now that I'm sort of used to my inbox having zero emails, when I have new emails, whether they're 5 or 20 (luckily I don't get so many that regular email breaks result in more new emails than that), I instantly process them without procrastinating or stressing. Though I've implemented a bunch of GTD methodologies over the last few months, this is the first one that just feels perfectly natural. My new and easy mentality is: "An inbox is supposed to stay at zero, so what's all this stuff doing here? I better respond to it or forward it to Evernote."

EDIT: Oh, and I had upwards of 100 starred emails last week. Now I have zero. And zero drafts.

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I just did the same thing and it feels great. I realized that I would probably never read all of those emails and I could just as easily not read them if they were archived as I could if they were in the Inbox. So, a few clicks and they were gone.

It helps to know they still exist somewhere, however.

No stars, no labels (I had over 50). . . mind like water (with an elephant by my side. . .)

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One of the nearly-universal things I have clients do is go through all of their newsletter subscriptions and ruthlessly unsubscribe from them. Most people receive far, far more newsletters then they will ever be able to read/enjoy. I've surprised many clients with just how far this can go to helping them clear out their inboxes.

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One of the nearly-universal things I have clients do is go through all of their newsletter subscriptions and ruthlessly unsubscribe from them. Most people receive far, far more newsletters then they will ever be able to read/enjoy. I've surprised many clients with just how far this can go to helping them clear out their inboxes.

Yeah. I had a project for one month to police everything that came to my GMail inbox. I unsubscribed probably half of the newsletters. The rest get auto-forwarded to Evernote. One interesting result was that the auto-forwarded newsletters look better (in my opinion) than manually forwarded emails.

My normal newsletter Filter rules in GMail are:

Skip Inbox, Mark as read, Apply label "To Evernote", Forward to <my evernote email>@m.evernote.com

I leave the originals in GMail just in case they are relevant to a later GMail search.

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One of the nearly-universal things I have clients do is go through all of their newsletter subscriptions and ruthlessly unsubscribe from them. Most people receive far, far more newsletters then they will ever be able to read/enjoy. I've surprised many clients with just how far this can go to helping them clear out their inboxes.

Yeah. I had a project for one month to police everything that came to my GMail inbox. I unsubscribed probably half of the newsletters. The rest get auto-forwarded to Evernote. One interesting result was that the auto-forwarded newsletters look better (in my opinion) than manually forwarded emails.

My normal newsletter Filter rules in GMail are:

Skip Inbox, Mark as read, Apply label "To Evernote", Forward to <my evernote email>@m.evernote.com

I leave the originals in GMail just in case they are relevant to a later GMail search.

Owyn, that is a great strategy for keeping those newsletters. Now the question is... do you ever get around to reading them?

;)

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Yep. I browse/speed read them using my "Inbox GMail" saved search (notebook:@Inbox source:mail.smtp) in the Web client.

If something catches my eye then I follow the link or select text and right-click -> Search Google for ...

When finished reading I edit the note to:

- Fix title if needed. Typically suffix it with "(YYMMDD)" to keep similar titles organizied.

- Move it to appropriate archive. Most frequent case is notebook -> "@News" tag -> "news"

A lot of the newsletters I get are technical. Having them available to later Google/Evernote searches can pay unexpected dividends.

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Owyn, that is a great strategy for keeping those newsletters. Now the question is... do you ever get around to reading them?

I've done the same as Owyn for the last couple months. I haven't read almost any of the auto-forwarded newsletters, but that's not a problem, since (a) as you know from working with your clients, I'm not missing much, and (:) forwarded to Evernote, where I can read them if/when I want, instead of in my inbox, where they require action, they're no longer a waste of time or a stressor. Maybe I'll unsubscribe to the last ones someday, but those that aren't time-relevant are doing just fine in Evernote, waiting for me to look at whenever I want to (and out of my consciousness for now).

EDIT: Smiley face is meant to be "b )" without the space there. Ha.

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