Taming my Inbox: Rebooting the process

A while ago I wrote about the mess my multiple email accounts are in, and how I planned on writing about how I get it all organized (read it here). Since then I have been trying to figure out where to start. I began reviewing the different software I could use, but as I began writing about the different options I had the list kept growing, and each choice seems to do something I liked. So I stalled and nothing got posted. So Today I take a step back and try to break the problem into smaller pieces.

I have three types of email accounts Personal, Work and Miscellaneous accounts. I am going to look at what I use each type for then build a Plan for taming each type.

This is where I get email from friends, family and other non work stuff. Right now I have 4 email accounts that fit into this type. Of these 4 accounts 2 our hosted on my domain and the others are a Microsoft Live and GMail account. As of writing this only 2 are accessible from my phone, which seems to suggest That I might have 2 to many. Of course my accounts have an average of around 2000 messages in the in-boxes, with some messages as old as 3 years. So before I purge any I first have to go through and organize the messages and get rid of the trash.

I also have another 2 accounts sitting on the bubble of becoming Personal accounts, both are currently accessible from my phone, but that’s because I have been testing the accounts to see how the phone handles it. One is a Yahoo account, the other is a free web based Exchange account that supports active sync with my Windows Mobile Phone (Mail2Web). To be fair, the yahoo account was part of an attempt to build a brand around my blog and can be relegated to Miscellaneous or deleted outright. The Exchange account is a different story, I signed up for it to see how my phone would interact with an Exchange account and to see if I would be dinged for bandwidth. I haven’t been dinged and I’m very happy with how its been work. The only problem is that I only have web access to the Exchange account and that limits how useful the account will be. I could subscribe to an Exchange account with full access from out look but that costs between 8 and 16 a month, and going into a year of Melissa on maternity leave that’s not an option.

I have one work account but as with most of my personal accounts I have over 2 years of email Sitting in my inbox. I have been using IMAP to access my Mail to simplify getting messages from home and work. To tame my work email I need to start moving my email out of the inbox and into better system, something to make it easier to find old messages.

Then there are my messing around accounts. These are usually online accounts I create to check out the service and I use to register for things that I don’t generally want in my inbox. Occasionally I move an email account from Messing around to my personal but not often. I have around 6 accounts that I check occasionally that makeup up my Miscellaneous accounts. For now I am planning leaving these accounts alone. I should probably purge a few of them, but that can wait till I have the rest of my email tamed.

The Next Step:
So that is generally what my email situation Looks like. Now I need to Clean it up. From the beginning I have been looking at having a single solution for all my email, but as I have been reviewing my software options and my accounts themselves I am starting to think that I might want to consider having one application for my personal accounts and another for work account. I am also starting to reconsider where I want my mail to sit. For the last 2 years my mail has lived on the Mail server, I just connect to it and work with it online, usually using IMAP and Mozilla Thunderbird. This allows me to have access to the same mail where ever I am. This solved a problem with accessing my Mail at home and at work, but I now have a new way to check my Mail anywhere, my phone. So I have been asking my self, does my Mail need to stay on the server? I don’t have an answer for that yet, but until recently I wasn’t even asking the question.

So the question is how to organize my mail, where to do it, and how am I going to find the time to go through the thousands of messages. Right now I’m deciding between Tagging my messages with the relevant categories, or using a folder structure. In the end this might be decided by which software I use to organize my mail. Only time will tell, every post I’ve worked on so far has changed my prospective on my inbox and how to solve it so stay tuned.



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