Clearly hoarding is something looked at as an anomaly since there are entire shows about it. But what about being a digital hoarder? Â This week I’ve spent a large number of hours taming one client’s email. Â It went back as far as 2004. Â His Inbox alone was 28,322 emails. Â That didn’t include subfolders, sent items, deleted items (that was 3,270 alone!) and drafts. Â His feeling was if he kept it, he would always have it if he needed it. I beg to differ.
Outlook as a piece of software was never designed to handle that kind of volume. In fact, it was really only made to handle about 2GB worth of email. Â And for the average person, that’s all they can handle as well. We all get email every day that we will never need again – and probably didn’t need today. Â So rather than just bury your head and say you need it, set yourself up to succeed.
If you get an email that you never wanted and won’t need – you know the ones. “KAYAK alert!” or “Land’s End Deals” or whatever. 99% of those you never need to see again and if you did, you can find the deal on their website. Â To remove those, hold your shift key down when you hit delete. Â This will prompt you to permanently remove the email from your system. GONE.
Next, it is fine to use your Deleted Items as a holding place. Just give yourself a time limit. Â One of the best organization tips I ever got was to take items you didn’t think you would need in your house or office and put them in a box. Â Label the box “trash if not opened before” and put a date on it. Â Then if you need something, you change the label. Otherwise, on that date the box just goes to Goodwill. Â This is the same concept you can use with Outlook. Â Put items in Deleted Items knowing they will be there for a certain period of time. Â I personally never keep more than 2 weeks of email in my Deleted Items. It is simple to go in and delete everything older than 2 weeks and honestly, I don’t remember what I had for dinner. Let alone what I sent in an email three weeks ago!
Set up Rules. Rules can route your email automatically into folders so you can keep your Inbox clean. Â In my Outlook, anything that comes from LinkedIn goes into a LinkedIn folder. Newsletters have their own folder, my personal email account goes into a folder, etc. You can also use this to clean up email you currently have in the Inbox. Â If you create a rule, before you click Finish, check the box to run the rule first. Â This will move any emails into their new folders automatically. I often use this as a way to find email I can delete from people’s systems.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t help you or your computer to hold onto email in an unorganized fashion. Â Personally, I create folders for each of my clients and the organizations I belong to and file email both sent and received in those files. Â Then when I won’t be dealing with them for awhile, I archive that file with a name indicating who they are. I can easily open the archive file and check it out without any concerns that I will lose information but it is also out of the way and organized.
Okay – end of discussion. Back to archiving his email!