Lynette had over 14,000 emails in her Inbox. Her email program was sluggish and she wasn't happy about it. I suggested she archive and/or delete some of her email. She winced and said, "But what if I need one of them?" I knew I was dealing with a serious case of pack rat-itis that I wasn't going to cure. Filing that many emails would take her weeks of work she didn't want to do.
I happen to prefer a trim Inbox -but maintaining one is hard work. I wish my bank account could accumulate money as quickly as my Inbox bloats with email. For five years or so, the number of messages in my Inbox has fluctuated between 25 and 200 -never reaching zero. For some reason, pruning my Inbox to below 20 messages was impossible for me. When the number approached 200 I made an earnest effort to delete or file away as many as possible. Inevitably, I got distracted from this chore when I got down below thirty. The 20 message barrier haunted me.
One day I went on a serious Inbox filing rampage. I created new folders for new categories of my archived email. I clicked and dragged my Inbox-loitering messages like a maniac. This happy day I whittled my Inbox to only 22. Then I got an email about an upgrade to one of my favorite software programs. I clicked the link and, of course, had to order it. A few minutes later I got an email confirmation of my order, and then another email with the serial number. I wrote a buddy of mine to tell him the upgrade was available and he replied to thank me. Next thing I know, I had climbed back to 26 messages and it was time for dinner. I put the rest of my e-housekeeping off until the next day and woke up to fifteen new emails. This raised my total to 42, zapped my enthusiasm and broke my filing streak.
I discovered a fantastic tool for Outlook users that has helped me regain at least an hour of time that I would have spent filing emails each week. It is called SimplyFile (TechHit.com). If you use Outlook for email, SimplyFile will scan folders you've created for your emails and then use an advanced algorithm to predict where you will want to file messages that come into your Inbox. There is no configuration wizard and you don't need to create any rules for it to follow -it just works immediately after the install. When clicking a message in my Inbox, SimplyFile shows the folder in which it thinks you want to file it. One click and it is done. If it is wrong, you can file it manually. For me it has been over 90 percent accurate and I expect that to improve.
I finally broke my twenty message barrier and now I have an empty Inbox several times a week.