October 16, 2008

Gmail - Inbox (1) - janssen

Anyone who has had the pleasure of living with me for any period of time knows that I am all about "The Right Way of Doing Things." I assure you this does not get annoying at all (family members, it might be best if you just closed this window now before your eyes get stuck from rolling them around so quickly).

You might be surprised by how many "Right Ways of Doing Things" there are. For example, silverware must be put in the dishwasher prongs down (I live in terror of a fork prong going straight up under my fingernail - you're all very welcome for that mental image). And bread goes in the refrigerator. Give me hard bread over moldy bread every day of the week. The bed must be made every day. These things are important.

And yet, "The Right Way of Doing Things" does not stop at housekeeping. Oh no. . .it extends so much further than that. (Flee in terror while you have the chance).

Email, my friends, can be done the right way or the wrong way. I use Gmail, of course, because it's the best. And I archive all my mail. I cannot imagine leaving emails in the inbox, with the inbox count stretching out into the thousands.

The inbox is for emails that must be attended to. Once they have been dealt with, they can be archived away, never to be remembered again until you need to retrieve them for some piece of information.

Currently, my inbox has five items in it. There is an email from my mom about a miscellaneous item, a note from my former roommate where we discuss Christmas frolicking, nerts and Carmello bars (if that's not a worthwhile email, folks, what is?), a powerpoint presentation I need to review, an article sent by a professor, and a link to a pdf file from my mother which I have not yet downloaded as I'm fairly sure that doing so will crash my computer, seeing as it's a huge file.

I will respond, read, and download as necessary, and then archive. And then, my inbox will be gloriously, beautifully empty. All will be right with the world.

Do you empty your inbox or do you just leave it all in there?


  1. I simply DO NOT UNDERSTAND people who not only allow the number of emails in their inboxes to grow to the thousands, but who also have hundreds of UNREAD MESSAGES. Ugh. I can't focus on anything else if my Gmail tab has a number on it, and the 20 messages currently in my inbox waiting to be appropriately recorded or responded to are stressing me out.

    Um, so maybe I'm a little crazy.

  2. Archiving is totally the inferior solution. I'm constantly replying a few days later to old e-mails. Why not have them close at hand? Newest are sorted to the top, so it's not like it's going to make me lose things--quite the contrary.

    On the other hand, I currently have 438 new messages, so one might conclude I have a certain tolerance for clutter.

  3. Huh. Contrarily, I *am* obsessive about completely cleaning my Google Reader.

  4. Well, my yahoo account has well over five thousand now and gmail is at about 500. It's not that I don't agree with you, I just can't commit. It's probably because I am way more popular and get way more e-mails than you (hardy har har).

    Oh and also, I've been meaning to blog about the silverware issue. I am with you all the way, but where Blaine comes from they have everything pointing up in the silverware tray so it will get "clean". A) scared of being impaled B)you have to grab it by the part on which you eat and get it all dirty just to put it away. So we compromise and point knives and forks down and spoons up. Weird.

  5. You're not going to approve of this, but I wasn't even aware of the archive button until RIGHT NOW.

    The whole becoming a mom thing...something has to fall by the way side, and for me it has been email. I wish I could answer all of it, but I just don't have time, so it just sits there. I can't think about it too much or I start to hyperventilate, actually.
    But I just don't have to time to deal with it.

  6. I used to be good (meaning, doing things the Janssen way) but a few years ago, I just stopped. I think it carried over from my job where my boss asks me at least once a day "do you have that email from...?" I look at my personal email as almost a journal so that's why I hate the idea of getting rid of a lot of it. I do move stuff into subfolders but not often enough.

  7. You and I are the same person. And, honestly, that delights me.

  8. I didn't even know you could do that! I have like 5 email addresses, so none of them get too cluttered. But I'm going to try and start doing things the right way for now on.

  9. I must archive everything. It drives me crazy to have my e-mails pile up. I even wish there was a way to archive e-mails into sub-folders. Honestly. You should really see the way my "My Documents" folder is organized.

  10. oh and re: silverware, I started mixing mine up after I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how silverware cleans better when it's not all uniform/pointing the same way. Never doubt the WSJ!!

  11. i am a semi-emptier. ten or more in my inbox simply stresses me out. i am definitely an archiver. i heart gmail!!

  12. oh and as for the silverware thing....i face them down too because the water is the strongest from the bottom!! did that makes sense?? in my head it totally makes sense :)

  13. I have no interest whatsoever in any way in archiving my mail. None. If it is new, then I attend to it right away. If I read it with the intent to attend to it but don't attend to it right away, then I mark it as unread so that I won't forget it. Things that I refer to a lot get starred. I have 3,974 items in my inbox. Come to think of it, I might have started archiving not to long ago and then got bored and quit. I didn't want to archive all of it.

    And you taught me the proper way of putting silver prongs down. I'm not afraid of getting impaled, I just don't want anybody's hands to touch the eating-off-of part. Defeats the purpose of washing the darn things.

    Whoever is last out of bed makes it. That is Eric, and that is why the bed doesn't get made. Drives me a little crazy sometimes and I just make it anyway.

    And dude. BREAD! This is something we can never agree on. If you eat a lot of sandwiches, there is absolutely no need to put bread in the fridge. You will eat that loaf long before it gets moldy. If it takes you a while to go through a loaf, I guess you have to refrigerate it. We buy about four loaves at a time (because we eat so much), and usually two loaves go out and two stay in.

    Normally I just respond to your blogs via chatting, so I felt like I owed you an especially long comment. :)

  14. Oh, lord. My inbox is a great farking mess. There are 217 unread messages in it right now and that's not because I haven't read them. It's because I skimmed them and left them there. Sometimes it's useful to be able to go back but mostly it's just that I read and run and don't have time to think about what to keep and what to delete.

  15. Okay everyone. This is a computer. It contains everything in a very small space. It doesn't really matter how much stuff is there until you fill up the available space. There isn't any paper cluttering the desk. You can find things with a couple of clicks and by typing a couple of words. You can sort and not make a mess. Please continue reading ;)

    Now that I have said that, I don't archive, but I do have a folder and sometimes sub-folders for each friend, family, and/or subject in My Documents on my hard drive. If it is important, I also keep a paper copy.

    Why? Because I'm complusive? Sometimes. Actually, I do genealogy, and I do books for my husband's business. It is how I keep track everything. A hard copy is the proof/documentation needed.

    I never completely trust a computer. Hard drives crash and backups fail. Yup, they sure do. Just ask anyone who has just downloaded all their pictures and lost them - never to be seen again.

    Now, if all the paper filing was done as neat and organized as my computers...

  16. OH DEAR.

    Once upon a time I made a New Year's Resolution to keep my work email inbox under 200. RIGHT. That's working out REALLY WELL for me.

  17. funny cause Dan uses those exact words: "the right way" of doing something. Which is mostly a joke referring to his mom's similar infatuation. BUT, I overall am not that kind of person. He archives. I do not.

  18. You would cringe at the sight of my inbox. But on the other hand, smile at my forks.

  19. Can I be an inbetweener? The number of emails in my inbox is an indicator of how out of control my life is at any given time. I like to keep it like you do but sometimes I get a little behind. I absolutely cannot have unread emails though.

  20. I don't even know what the archive button in gmail does. . .however I read all of my messages, I can't stand to have my inbox at any more than 3. Somewhere along the way I missed 3 messages and they will remain unread forever. When I see 4 (which has become my absolute favorite number) I know that I have a new email.

    At my first full time job I'd get a lot of trivial emails that could be deleted right away, so I was used to be work email inbox being 0. Then, at my second job, I realized that deleting emails was a big no-no, so I had to get used to having hundreds of emails in the inbox. At first it drove me absolutely nuts, but eventually I got used it it. (I tried to folder, but it wasn't always possible to put an email into one catagory, so I just relied on my search function.)

  21. With my work inbox, I am the same way. My personal rule is that at the end of the day I cannot have a scrollbar in my inbox -- all the emails need to fit within one pane, and they are all reminders for something I need to do. Everything else gets archived away in folders.

    But with gmail I'm a total slob. I think it's because they won't let me make folders... tags don't do it for me. My inbox is a mess!

  22. I totally agree that the knives must go down (sorry, not the forks, but that was a pretty graphic image, I might be converted), bread goes in the fridge, and the bed MUST be made. But I have to say, currently I don't archive my email. It's been on my to-do list for a while now though. I do HATE having many unread messages. That simply cannot be tolerated (either in gmail or google reader).

  23. I leave all of the silverware up except knives. I have nightmares about tripping while walking next to the dishwasher and being impaled. I also have an algorithm to get the least number of similar silverware items in the same compartment of the tray, that way they can't 'spoon' next to each other and stay dirty.

    As for Gmail, I like to leave it between 3 and 5. I hate having an empty inbox, but I can't stand if it has a scroll bar. Mostly I choose who gets to stay in my inbox by who I like best that day. Not so scientific, but it works for me.

  24. I do the exact same thing. Unfortunately I haven't made a complete switch to gmail yet but I do have a couple of accounts there for various reasons.

    Is it wrong that I keep seeing "Inbox (1)" out of the corner of my eye and getting excited thinking I have mail??

  25. I pretty much never clean mine out. I'm awesome.

    (I do use filters and stars for important stuff, though.)

  26. Re: bread -- weird. There's so many preservatives in the bread today, how can it possibly mold within 3 weeks, and if you have it longer than that, why? :)

    Regarding email, I have a massive amount of it (6GB worth, some 68,000 emails or so) stretching back to 2001 and occasionally before. I have a massive amount of folders, sub-folders, and tons and tons of rules to sort incoming emails into their appropriate folders. Anyone I communicate with regularly has their own folder, and any organization. I get between 300 and 400 spam per day, so if I don't have the filter rules, I can't possible organize my email at all.

    If it is a legitimate email, it stays...always. I have every email every girlfriend has ever sent me, any email any family member has sent me, etc. Sometimes that comes in handy...sometimes I cringe to read past sins. It came in very handy when my friend Amy was killed by lightning and I have a box full of emails from her that I treasure very much.

    Each to their own, but organization wins out on this one! :)

  27. I totally archive when things are decently important, but for the most part I flat out delete. I keep things that are pressing or need replies in my inbox and things I might need someday in the archives, but other than that? Cyber oblivion.

  28. Also, you have a LOT of comments. You're a lot more popular than me.


  29. Silverware belongs prongs up, and bread does NOT, I repeat, does NOT belong in the refrigerator. The bed need not be made, but it's nice if it is. Eh, whatever.

    And that, my friend, is "The Right Way of Doing Things."

    Have you closed my comment yet? :D

  30. I'm a gmail nerd/addict. I love clearing out my inbox and then being able to find archived items again. I'm with Kayla though, I've started to delete because a few months ago, gmail told me I'd reached my limit! Yikes! Then out of nowhere they gave me a ton more space. Um, I just have to say, when I read the title of this post, I got a little excited seeing the "inbox (1)" thinking that I might have an email. See....I'm a nerd.

  31. Once I was helping a good friend of mine organize his life as we were each moving apartments, both of us about to start life as dorm RAs. As we started putting papers in stacks and it was becoming apparent just how disorganized and cluttered J had let himself become, it occurred to me to ask about his online life as well. "How many unread emails are in your in box?"

    J's face betrayed an embarrassment beyond what he was currently feeling. "Uh, maybe 300 or so?"

    Deep breath (the sound of empathy overcoming pity). "Alright. You let me keep stacking papers and throwing away actual garbage—you get on your computer and start dealing with e-garbage."

    J started going through months and months of emails, things he had never even opened or glanced at. As I was differentiating between classwork, bills, bank statements, and rubbish (mostly rubbish), I heard him say to himself quietly and in slight disbelief, "What?"

    "What's up?" I asked.

    "Do you know a girl named Amy Walker?"

    "Sure; she's in my ward. Beautiful smile. You've probably met her a few times."

    "What?" Disbelief again.

    "What is it?"

    "Listen to this," Jason says, and reads me an email from the aforementioned Amy (named changed to protect, uh...everyone) basically asking him to ask her out. I mean, she had really gone out on a limb sending this email, put herself in a vulnerable spot. It was quite a compliment to J that she had done so.

    "When was that written?" I asked.

    "Um, two months ago." Jason gulped. "She must think I'm a jerk that I never responded. For two months anytime I've seen her she's been wondering why I haven't mentioned it at all!"

    He had to see what he was missing, so we ran over to my well-ordered room and I showed him a picture. I assured him that her beauty was not just skin deep, but that she was a very nice girl through and through. His anguish was great.

    Nearly three years later I ran into Amy and we renewed our acquaintance. I asked her about the J email and what she had thought, and it turned out she did indeed think J was a jerk. I explained that he wasn't a jerk, just a slob.

    Now, when I see J, I ask him how many emails are in his inbox, by which I mean, "How's life, and is it all in order?" His face invariably falls as he remembers what might have been and what currently is: 300 emails still in the inbox, any one of which could be from a beautiful girl asking him out.

    Also, I don't have a dishwasher.

  32. I occasionally allow my personal e-mail inbox to get out of hand, but I always keep my work inbox tidy.

  33. I hope we can still be friends after this:

    I put my forks in the dishwasher prongs up because I feel like they don't get adequately washed when the prongs are down in the basket (gasp!) I refuse (REFUSE) to refrigerate (or freeze) my bread. Cold, hard bread gives me nightmares!! And I never ever make my bed! Oh my gosh! I'm so bad! AND to top it all off, I have never in my life sorted my e-mail. My inbox goes on for eternity!

    Don't cry! I promise, we can work this out! Who knew our relationship would come to this?

  34. Pretty much, everything you listed as being particular about, I am the exact same way. Yes, prongs down, bread in fridge. Also, my inbox is for things I need to get done (I try to keep the number of email in there to 10-15 or under). An empty inbox is an organized inbox.

  35. I am so a prongs-down kind of girl...that way when you are cleaning out the dishwasher and your hands are perfectly clean you still won't get germs on the forks.

    Bread in fridge, ditto with fruit (I don't eat fast enough).

    And I am SO with you on the inbox thing...must be cleaned out daily. Ditto on the google-reader. I need a fresh slate.


  36. Like you, I must have my inbox empty in order to feel relaxes at all (though I use Outlook, which I can synch with my treo cell phone). When I'm traveling and can't respond to thinks, I still put them into temporary "to do" folders once I've read them, so that I don't have to keep seeing them in the inbox. That, my friend, is compulsive. But I don't care which way the silverware goes.

  37. Gmail is the best and archiving is a must!

  38. Janssen,

    Maybe you should write a post explaining to the masses how archiving works, how it is and isn't like folders, how it is just negligent not to know and to do.

  39. What is even the point of using gmail if you don't archive EVERYTHING!?!? That is the best part!!! I am totally a person who wants to get things out of my inbox because it serves as my to do list. Now that might make you think that I have a very empty inbox. I used to. Then my second child was born. But even if I'm not on top of things, my philosophy is identical to yours ;)

  40. Oh yah, and don't forget the added fabulosity of filters and labels. Glorious. Some stuff can automatically be archived for me to look at only if I want to. And then I just click on a label. No sorting email by email into folders. Gmail adds the labels for me!

  41. I found your blog post through a search for “Nerts”. It is cool to see others that know about the game. I hope you don’t mind but I wanted to let you know about playnertz.com, the site for the National Nertz Association. There is a bunch of interesting Nertz information there and you can also find out how to play Nertz online there. I hope you will check it out. Feel free to join and also let your friends and family know. Thanks

    I'm with you Katherine on the email. I delete like crazy after they are no longer of use.

  42. My gmail inbox currently has 3608 unread messages. Of course this is the account that I share with my husband and lots of ad mail comes there, etc. When I want something I just use the nifty search feature. I used to keep my inbox cleared out, then I had three children (and now have another on the way). Life is too short for me! I'm glad you are able to keep yours clean though, I would feel a little better about life if I did, but oh well!

  43. I leave urgent things unread. Well, I read them, and them mark them unread.

    I leave anything that needs a response in the inbox. This varies from 10 or so to no more than 50. The inbox CAN NOT exceed one page. I leave comments from my blog there until I can reply so sometimes it does get close to 50.

    Everything else is archived. I have a folder called "active" where I put things like Amazon orders that haven't come in and I use it as kinda a second tier inbox.

    There is one sappy email from my husband that will always stay in the inbox.

  44. oh. my. gosh. I needed to read this post. I am bad at archiving and I need to be better. Noelle sometimes helps me :) Bless her!

  45. I got such a kick out of this post! I hear ya, girl! I always put the utensils in the dishwasher pokey side down too... but my reasoning is that I figure they get cleaned better that way. I especially chuckled about your email "rightness"... it drives me crazy that my husband has a million emails in his inbox. When I asked him why he just doesn't delete them he told me, "Because it drives you crazy." Grr!


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