As of mid-1998, I get about 60 email messages a day that I need to process, of which 75% are work-related. Another ~20 are automatically filed (websites, computer news, tips, stock reports, etc.) and to a good first approximation I essentially never have time to look at those.
When I get an email message, I try to take immediate action on it if possible. If I cannot, I file the message into one of two additional files: "To Deal With - Work" and "To Deal With - Home". I then go back and try to work on messages in those latter two files when I have time.
Unfortunately, I cannot even keep up with looking at those 60 email messages. They often pile up directly in my inbox, sitting unviewed until I find the time to look at them and at least file them.
A Plot of the number of emails in various categories shows how badly I fall behind at times in my inbox, and how the messages in my "To Deal With" files just keep piling up. The blue curve in that plot gives the number of emails in my Inbox that I haven't done anything with at all. The lower red curve gives the number of emails in my "To Deal With - Home" file. The green curve gives the number of emails in my "To Deal With - Work" file. The upper red curve is the grand total of all emails that I have yet to do something about. Also see the oldest email in my Inbox I have yet to even file in my "To Deal With" files. There are much older messages in my "To Deal With" files!
Previous to May, 1998, my email messages would periodically pile up, and when the count reached around 500, I would simply remove all the messages wholesale from my inbox, never to be seen again. So if you sent me a message prior to then, and never got an answer, please resend! Since May, 1998, my plan has been to at least shuttle the messages to my "To Deal With" files, where they most likely will still never be seen again. As you can tell from the email backlog plot, I am not winning that war, either.
Copyright © 1998-1999 by Tom Chester. Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to me at this source:
Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Last update: 25 January 1999.