So, I love GTD jive, but there’s one place where I take a seriously divergent view. My email inbox is never, ever empty. I don’t even try. I had it empty one time and it freaked me out so much that I decided to never do it again. The big advantage to an empty email inbox is supposed to be that your mind can be empty of distractions, etc. But an empty email inbox just made me think more about email! I kept having to go look and see if I’d gotten any email yet. It was totally distracting. Keeping it full means I know where all my email is and I don’t have to think about it.
Like most folks, I’ve got a handful of email accounts and I get my messages either through gmail or through Outlook. Both programs have pretty good search functions (I use Lookout in Outlook) and so far I’ve been successful in finding whatever I need.
My overriding concern with email is finding what I need, when I need it. If search tools will do that, why should I spend my time moving messages around from folder to folder for no discernable advantage? It’s not that I don’t move messages around. I mean, I use filters to drop messages into different folders for various listservs and people. And, in Outlook, I archive a lot of stuff. So I move stuff around, but my inbox always has about two weeks worth of email in it…around 250 – 300 messages. And gmail is even bigger, since I never really have to archive anything. I bet just reading those last two sentences will give some people hives.
Besides, a full inbox means everybody loves me, right?.