Navigating The E-Mail Stream

I’m now entering week 2 of life without my computer, which is still in the shop waiting for parts. I’ve figured out how to work around most of the limitations of working on my iPad, but the biggest frustration for me right now is managing my e-mail.

I use Microsoft Outlook on my PC to manage my e-mail. All of my e-mail addresses — business and personal — flow into my Outlook inbox. From there, I read and process e-mail: responding when appropriate, then deleting when I don’t need to keep an e-mail and filing in folders when I do. The end result is that everything that remains in my inbox is a reminder of something that still needs a response or an action. I try to keep the number of e-mails in the inbox low enough that they don’t go past one screen, so that I don’t have to scroll down to see the oldest ones.

The inbox on my iPad, on the other hand, is simply one long stream of e-mails, both received and sent. If I don’t respond to a new e-mail right away, it gets buried way down in the list and I may forget about it. I can’t clear the e-mails out of the inbox unless I delete them, which I don’t want to do because I want them to wind up on my computer when I get it back.

My Organizing Goddess e-mail address is based on gmail. If I read a gmail e-mail on my iPhone when I’m out of the house, if will be marked as “read” in my iPad inbox, and then I am sure to forget about it. I now live in fear of overlooking a commitment because it’s lost in my inbox.

I often get annoyed at others who ignore or overlook my e-mails until I send several more urgent reminders. Now I have a greater understanding of what my recipients may be dealing with. Perhaps they, too, are processing their e-mail in one undifferentiated stream that just goes on and on.

When I get my computer back, I will have to spend quite a bit of time managing the hundreds of e-mails that will flood into my Outlook inbox and which will need to be filed or deleted until I regain order. Nevertheless, I am eagerly looking I forward to getting back to my usual efficient way of processing e-mail.

If you, too, are struggling with an endless stream of e-mail, then I suggest you look into other programs that will help you manage e-mail on your device of choice. In the meantime, if you write to me and don’t hear back, you’ll know why.



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