43 Folders

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Fresh Start: The Email DMZ

Like a lot of the best fresh starts, this one's a total psych-out; also, like most of the best ones, you won't believe how well it works until you actually try it for yourself.

  1. Open your email program and create a new folder called "DMZ"
  2. Go to your email inbox and Select All
    • You might alternatively choose all email older than n days
  3. Drag those emails from your inbox into the DMZ folder
  4. Go, and sin no more.

Is this the email equivalent of covering your ears and singing loudly? Not really. You still need to deal with all the emails in your DMZ folder (personally I'd recommended "archiving" anything older than 21 days), but, most importantly, you're drawing a line in the sand. You're saying "Okay, starting this minute I quit letting 'being behind' stop me from making good decisions now and going forward." Hence the "fresh start." Get it? Tomorrow morning you arrive to a spanking fresh inbox and the chance to start anew. Of course, using your fresh start to develop an actual new habit is entirely optional, but it's certainly more reachable than ever now, right? Right.

Basically, this works at accomplishing the one thing you need more than anything else right now: to stop digging.

Think about it: how much stuff in your life has gotten unmanageable simply because you decided at some point that you were too behind to ever make a difference? More than anything you need a way to recover these projects from the brink -- to find the handle that lets you stop making it worse and start seeing a way back toward daylight.

(On another day, I'll tell you my super-secret way of paring down the biggest DMZ folder to empty in 15 minutes.)

How I stay on top of my emails — cre8d design blog's picture

[...] 43 Folders’ post on...

[...] 43 Folders’ post on managing that incredibly full email box by moving everything into a folder called DMZ and starting afresh got me thinking about how I manage dealing with a tonne of emails that come in.  My way of feeling like I’m keeping on top of my inbox(es) is simple: keep the number of emails in my inbox below 10.  This usually means I have 9 emails in my inbox but that always feels manageable - the list is nice and short.  Each day, I keep to this and it never grows out of control.  When I go away for a while and my inbox has a tonne, I sort by the email subject which helps me deal more quickly with the pile. I also have two subfolders for my inbox: one called “In progress” which has emails I need to quickly refer back to but don’t need to reply to (I try keeping this to below 20).  The other is called “Comments” which filters in all my inbox emails which are comments on any of my blogs. Once I’ve finished with emails I file them in folders based on date. Here’s what I have currently: [...]




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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