How do I manage a bulging inbox

Within my main inbox I have 3 sub folers: Do, Done, Defer and 3 macros to move the selected folder into the relevent folder. (alt-1 moves the selected mail to done and then selects the next mail). Each day I quickly filter my inbox into the three folders. I can process several hundred mails in 20 mins or so.

Do, something I expect to process today. Done, something I don’t care about/have read and understood, I dont expect to refer back to these today. Defer, something I will do something about but not today.

At the end of processing I expect my inbox to be empty.  

At the end of the day all mail items in Do move to Defer (I dont want to keep things in Done overnight).

At the start of the day all items in Defer are filtered using the rules above, I dont want to leave things in Defer for more then a day or 2. If stuff hangs around for too long I will add it to my diary to process later.

At the end of the day all mail in Done is copied into an archive folder based on the month/year. Done is just a parking place for things to be archived.

I use a tool to index my archive, I actually use X1 but google desktop is an excellent alternative.

I filter out any important facts i would like to refer back to in outlook notes.

I filter out any tasks I would like to recal into omni focus (http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnifocus/) the best GTD I have found.

I DO NOT EVER use my inbox as a todo list or a mechanism for recording subtle facts I want to recall later. I know a lot of people do but IMHO its just a bad way to be.

5 thoughts on “How do I manage a bulging inbox

  1. Oh I also filter any mail not posted to me directly, by the mailing list the mail was sent to. I give different amounts of attention to each mailing list. I do follow the mechanism above for each mailing list but some I glance at and some I process in detail.

  2. Incidentally, just saw this and thought of you. This is the best quick summary I’ve seen of the general approach that I think would make me, personally, most productive.
    It is not, unfortunately, what I do. Ho hum.

  3. I’ve looked at Omnifocus before, as a reason for getting an iPhone. The phone version is location-aware and apparently ties into several other apps for finding local services.
    Shame the grown-up application is mac-only, I’d be tempted to try it.

      1. Tempting! I don’t have a computer that’s due for replacement anytime soon, though. Maybe when one of them wears out, I’ll try a mac. They seem very popular amongst the sysadmins in the office.

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