You Only Need 5 Email Folders


I am constantly reading articles that make suggestion for improving productivity. I came across the article “The Only Five Email Folders Your Inbox Will Ever Need” a few weeks ago and have been trying (not too successfully) to follow the advice given.

The essence of this article is that you should create four new folders into which you sort your email leaving your inbox empty. The five folders are:

  1. Inbox – the existing folder where all new email is placed
  2. Today – stuff that needs to be handled today
  3. This Week – stuff that needs to be handled this week
  4. This Month (or This Quarter) – stuff that needs to be handled this month
  5. FYI – information stuff that I might want to refer to later

So I have created those additional four folders (Actually, my FYI folder has subfolders for specific subject areas as well). So how have I fared with this approach?

I look at my new mail 2-3 times a day. If it is something I can deal with in 5 minutes or less, I do that immediately (generally). I try to sort the remainder into the folders suggested. Even after weeks of trying this, today was the first day I actually completely processed my Today folder. I guess “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” comes into play.

I have also found that my initial sorting has not always been correct. I have too often placed email in the Today folder when it should have been in This Week or even This Month.

This approach does require changing your habits so that processing these folders becomes an automatic routine. The FYI folder I find useful as I had been saving email in a number of separate folders. I moved those to the FYI folder and now have that reference information in one spot.

Is this a process that will work for you?

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