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Mail inbox vs archive dilemma

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 by Servage

In this article I’d like to reflect a little about different philosophies when it comes to email handling. I know that many of us tech-savvy people out there are handling multiple email accounts with up to several messages per day. This imposes an increasing organization difficulty, because we need to not only receive, process and react to the information we receive – we also forget things, and want to look them up again later, thus archiving is important.

There are various approaches to this problem. The traditional approach is to simply sort and store everything in appropriate folders. This system reflects the traditional folder-based archiving cabinets we all now from old movies or our parents offices ;-)

Sorting in folders

Another way of handling this, is kind of similar, because it also aims at cleaning up the inbox from pending mails. However, the second system is a pure archive chronologically without sorting system. So, whenever a message has been around in the mailbox for enough time and has been handled, then it is archived together with everything else in “old mail” or “archive”.

One big archive

Nowadays more modern ways of sorting are becoming popular as well. Since we are no longer handling an actual physical piece of paper, we do not adhere to the same filing and archiving rules as they did in the past. We don’t have to archive the message in a single place – we can attach labels and tags to it, while storing it somewhere else. We can do a whole lot of virtual stuff, which makes finding the information we need later on very easy.

Virtual sorting with labels and tags

I believe that simply storing data by a simple system (mails e.g. in chronological order) and then using a more or less complex scheme of tags or labels is the future of mail archiving. Based on labels, you can always find your mails again, but at the same time they can be attached to multiple groups of labels, thus be in more logical containers than a single physical folder.

What do you do, and how does it work for you?

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Categories: Business


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