Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My E-Mail Mess---Decluttering Part 2

Answer:  My Inbox!

Question:  Where can you keep the messiest files around, yet no one but you can see them???

You know we all keep too many e-mails.  Well, except my daughter who keeps no more than ten or so at any time...  I use my Inbox as a reference during the school year, looking back on e-mail threads to recall when I wrote teachers about ideas for students or when I spoke with a colleague about my part of a project.  However, every few months I sort through them and cull the totally unnecessary messages.  This usually happens on Fridays a few minutes before the end of the day.

I used to review them one-by-one according to the date sent, but that got confusing because I'd keep reading portions of the same e-mails over and over, since I was reading repeated messages along the same thread, all scattered through my Inbox in reverse chronological order, and they all blurred together. 

One day a wonderful technology integrator at work gave me a little hint:  prior to reviewing any messages for deletion, first sort them by Sender or From.  Quick Tips for Sorting E-Mails
Don't do this right now!  Listen to the next step and force yourself to do it before deleting anything.

The Next Step  This really should be the first step, but it's so hard to do.  Relax, close your eyes and think about this...there are some messages in my Inbox which can be deleted right away without opening them but there are many which can't be deleted until I review them.  Who sent me e-mails I need to review prior to deleting, or perhaps even keep for a very long time?

For me the answer is easy:  1) My direct supervisor or her supervisor, 2) a colleague who is working on a project with me this year, 3) anyone connected with a student who is having some special concerns at school 4) people who have shared valuable resources with me in a message, like those great folks at Springbook Adult Day Hab in New York who sent me wonderful activities to use with my students and 5) members of my family or close friends.

You May Now Continue  I keep these important Senders in mind and sort my Inbox by Sender (or From).  When a see twenty messages from a school secretary about meetings that have already occurred I highlight them all at one time and delete them as a group.  I work on this for five minutes or so and then it's time to stop, re-sort my Inbox by Sent (that is, the time it was sent to me), and go on with life at school.

Note:  Where I work, we're supposed to keep e-mails we've sent.  Maybe you're expected to do the same?  I'm just talking about the Inbox in this post.

On the last day of school, at the last hour of the day, I delete my Inbox except for about 50 critical messages.  It looks so nice in August to come back to that skinny, lean Inbox.

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