Everyone has trouble organizing their email. The nice thing about writing a statement like that is there’s no way to verify it, yet just by saying it, I’ve positioned myself as somewhat of an expert. I’ve also presupposed that you have trouble. Boundless assumptions all over the place and really, who do I think I am? King Email? Now that’s it’s been thrown out there, yeah. I am King fucking Email and that’s how you’ll address me from now on. King Email. All hail the King baby.
Everyone has trouble organizing their email. Thankfully, King Email is here to help you with some of your more common issues. Problems with sorting and keeping track of your emails can be separated into 4 basic categories. If you find you are having issues that fall outside of these categories you are either:
a) Doing something fundamentally wrong or
b) Doing something fundamentally right.
The key is to recognize the difference – an important, somewhat critical topic that I will not touch upon or even sniff around.
This is where the money is. It’s where the magic happens. The inbox is the basic extension of yourself, and I don’t think it’s too forward for me to suggest that your basic personality type can be derived from its contents. If your inbox is filled with hundreds of unread emails, is totally unsorted, and contains junk you’ll never get to, I think you’re probably a serial rapist, but a horrifically unsuccessful one. What I mean by that is you’re either already in prison for having attempted, and subsequently caught at, your first and only serial rape, or you are unable to sustain an erection and therefore cannot rape. If you are a woman, just replace the word “rape” with “murderer”. FYI – Women need spiritual erections to murder.
If your inbox is clean and organized like mine, you are a fantastic person, you have a great body and most of your jokes are solid winners. Now that we’ve cleared up any issues with the inbox, let’s dive right into the next category.*
The Sent Items
This is also where the magic happens, but mostly this is the sort of magic that Gob Bleuth would be known for – it’s accidental, if it happens at all. The sent items is your safety net of the email world. It’s where you, by default, save all the emails that have gone out, saving you the trouble of actually classifying any of them. And assuming you have no restrictions on your sent box, every email you’ve ever sent will just sit there.
There is one popular school of thought for organizing sent emails, and that’s based on time. People** will tell you that any email you sent four months ago can be safely deleted. If you follow that crock of shit rule, you’re probably not even employed right now. I’m going on record as guaranteeing that you’ve already been fired for some type of gross or negligent incompetence. No, the only safe way to organize your sent items is on trust. If you trust the person you sent the email to, you can safely delete it, regardless of content or recency. And really, that is the only rule.
Go through your sent items and the ones you hesitate to delete are the ones where you’re not sure if you’re going to need them in the future. The only reason you’re not sure if you’ll need them? You don’t trust the recipient. I currently have 256 emails going out to one person, some as old as a year and a half, that I will never delete. Trust baby. This person can’t be relied on to take accountability for their problems and are always trying to shift the blame. Boom. I don’t delete emails to them. Friends on the other hand? Yeah! Auto-delete those, you’re golden.
The Deleted Items
This is the last refuge of the hopeless and the incompetent. The delete box is like the loser email do-over. You deleted something, but you didn’t really delete it, you just kind of sort of deleted it. Holy crap man. Commit. It takes real guts to delete from the delete box.***
This area is the real life equivalent of the storage closet. You don’t really have any use for the item, but you can’t bring yourself to throw it out. There’s only one rule for dealing with the delete box. Throw it out. Get rid of it. Routinely clear your delete box. It’s a crutch and you don’t need it. How will you ever get to that next level of email savvy if you don’t take this step? You won’t, that’s how.
I’m not touching folders with a 20 foot pole. Folders are like all three boxes rolled into one, so if you have crap in here, you’re like a failed serial-rapist / murderer who used the wrong criteria to get rid of emails and who can’t bring yourself to throw out your 2-decade old collection of Mad Magazine.
The only caveat to this rule is if you’re not at all like that and you use folders quite judiciously, with foresight and intelligence. Good for you.
Now you have all the tools you need to organize your email life. To sum up:
Inbox – Rapists
Sent Items – Trust
Deleted Items – Pathetic half-men
Folders – Tricky, multifaceted issue
I don’t hope that this was a help to you because I know for a fact that it was. Next up – organizing your book collection, and I how I blow the lid off the “alphabetical by author” theory.
*The truly astute among you (read: non-serial rapists / non-serial murderers) will notice I didn’t actually provide any tips to improve the quality of your inbox, I instead just took pot shots at rapists and murderers. Well I think that’s a philosophy we can all get behind, don’t you? Who’s with me!
*** Because I’m an email pro, I actually SHIFT+DELETE from my Inbox. Yeah, I’m that advanced. It’s not for the faint of heart