Managing the inbox

YouveGotMail-200On a weekly basis, I probably read 8 to 9 percent, if that, of the emails that come that hit my inbox. And I read even fewer at work.

Lazy? Probably.

Overwhelmed? Definitely.

There is just too much coming in all the time.

You visit a website of a podcaster that you listen to on a regular basis. On the website there are several social media icons. So you start following the person on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, Stumbleupon, etc. Then the flood begins. The newsletter, followed by notifications about everything this person says and does on all of her accounts. Now multiply that by every website you visit and only wanted to download an ebook or report.

Plus something every few days from each of the online stores you visit.

Plus something every few days from retail stores who gave you a 40% off first purchase for joining the club and giving them your email address.

Now, start wading through all that to get to the emails that are actually important.

And god help you if your website visits attract a spammer.

Be careful to whom and to which websites you give your email address. If you only want to have one account, I suggest getting an account at GMail or Yahoo as a junkpile account for sites you need something from once or twice but don’t visit regularly. That way you can get your PDFs and deal with the potted email product later. Sometimes you have to get what you want from a particular site and unsubscribe later that day. You don’t want a situation where most of your time dealing with email constitutes messing with it.

Prioritizing messages is a sizable chore. I’ve tried several prioritzation tricks to handle it, and at some point they’ve all failed, or I’ve failed at them. This is where the email overwhelm part comes in. It can be depressing. You look at the inbox and the numbers of messages and your response is ‘ugh.’ Then you close the inbox and come back later when there are twice as many messages in there. You’d like to delete everything, but there might be that one message that you’ll need some day. If the need for something buried among irrelevant messages hasn’t arisen in a year, it won’t. Just dump it.

Google divides the messages in buckets to try to keep the social messages from the marketing crap from the important stuff in Gmail. But that’s running off an algorithm which are never efficient, so things you want to see end up in a tab you never look at.

I have several email accounts that I use, and a couple of apps to manage things.


The gmail accounts just kind of sit until I get to them. I have moved most of the important mail from those. The google account is necessary for the phone. I try to move less relevant newsletter items to my gmail accounts. My primary email accounts are through the hosting company I use. I use AquaMail Pro on my phone and tablets to read, scan, and delete emails. The app is set to erase emails from the server when I delete them. Anything I leave on there I need for reference.

mozilla-thunderbird-1When I can get to it, which usually ends up being the weekend, I open Thunderbird and download everything off the server. After that I go back to AquaMail and delete those emails from my phone and tablet. My devices don’t sync, so I have to delete copies in AquaMail on each one.

I don’t always get around to doing all this on a regular basis, and sometimes I leave Thunderbird open after I’ve downloaded and cleared the phone and emails get through. But, overall this cuts down on much of the current accumulation in my inbox. It’s not a perfect system, but it works for the most part.