OK, so in the last few years I’ve taken a fair bit of criticism for how I manage email. Here’s how I do it, and I know it might go across the grain but it really works for me. Here goes:

I use an elaborate system of follow-up flags and inboxes.

Mail that comes to my @purposedriven.com stays in my main inbox. Mail that comes into my @simplyyouthministry.com inbox gets trasferred to a Inbox-SYM folder. Mail that comes to my @saddleback.net email gets routed to the Inbox-SVCC folder. Any Star Wars email to [email protected] goes to, you guessed it, Inbox-Star Wars. So 4 inboxes.

And then I don’t clean out any of the inboxes, right now the count is 1,541 items. In my followup folder, I’ve got 63 items I’m currently tracking on. That’s a bit high, usually it hovers around 10-15, but with the travel to YS last week and The Gathering the week before I’m a bit behind. And when we have the baby, it’ll get even worse.

Anyhow, here’s the color breakdown for the inbox flags – I’m using then to tell priority and/or category of action needed.

Red Flag – Items that need immediate action, regardless of category. They need attention by the end of the week, or preferably the end of the day.

Blue Flag – These are items that need attention. They are on the to do list, they have pertinent information that I need, they require something from me at come point. The are on the list, but not a priority.

Yellow Flag – These are items specific to the PDYM Community. The are probably resources that need to be uploaded and put into the Resource Sharing section.

Green Flag – These are personal emails – not related to work or Star Wars, just people I know I want to reply to an email they sent at some point.

So nothing ever gets deleted.

Every email I’ve received or sent is probably on my computer. The last 30 days are online on the Exchange server, the rest are autoarchived on my hard drive and instantly searchable offline. Right now that’s 4.7GB, which makes me smile.

OK, that’s the chaos that is my inbox. How do you do yours?