Managing E-Mail Overload – Draw a Line in Your Inbox

I dare say more than a few SLAW readers will have a New Year’s resolution that, in one form or another, has at its core, a goal of getting to an empty inbox. Unfortunately, there is no magic button – it takes a lot of time and effort to get to an empty, especially if you have hundreds (or even thousands of messages) in your Inbox.

I won’t focus on cleaning up older messages in this post. My LAWPRO Magazine article Surviving the E-mail Onslaught has some quick tips. Probably the best collection information on this topic is the Inbox Zero series of articles on the 43 Folders site.

What I would like to suggest is a way you can get a fresh start on you Inbox for the New Year.

Simply send yourself an e-mail with a subject line of “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX”.

That effectively draws a line in your Inbox.

You will find it much easier to keep up with current e-mails, including getting to the elusive goal of going home each night with an empty Inbox (at least after the line you have drawn). This will help you feel more positive, and at least partially, lift the weight of overflowing Inbox off your shoulders.

Yes, you will still have to go back and deal with your older messages, but having that line in your Inbox will give you a far more attainable goal of keeping current on your recent messages.

Happy New Year everyone!


  1. Something I do is treat my inbox like a ToDo list.

    In my apple mail I have two folders: “Inbox” and “Archive”. Anything that doesn’t require direct action on my part goes in the “Trash” or the “Archive”. Everything that needs to get done stays in the InBox.

    I’ve also got five or six smart folders set up that are marked “Today”, “Yesterday”, “This Week”, “Last Week”, and “This Month”, and “Last Month”. This gives me quick and easy access.

    The system hasn’t failed me yet.

  2. Nice idea – i’ll have to give it a try

  3. Hi Dan,
    Another way to accomplish this is to create a temporary folder and move all those items into it. I say temporary because hopefully, you’ll deal with or delate all those at some other time. When you name the folder, you can reference the date that you “slid” all those emails into it.

    I’m a real advocate of getting folks to sort (NOT work)all that newly received email each of the few times they go into their inboxes each day. It actually works!

    Here’s looking to your clean inbox!

  4. AIIM just released a list of its top 10 of 2008, and one article proposes that it costs $3,500 to review 1 GB of stored e-mail. Certainly helps make the argument that we need to actively manage our inboxes!