A bit of thinking, a lot of simplification

I’ve been using folders and about 8-9 email accounts on my Outlook for 8 years now. I never questioned it and always assumed that would be the norm. As I was reviewing my email set up 2 months back in the spirit of “what got you here won’t get you there,” I felt I needed to set up some thinking time to think about this.

I am beginning to appreciate the importance of setting aside to think about these things. It is almost impossible to do so when you are stuck in the “daily grind.” I love the daily grind but it isn’t ideal for digging deep and thinking.

I spent 2 sets of time thinking about email. This involved writing down the reasons why I used email, how I ensured the why’s were being met, and what my approach would be if I started all over again. My conclusions were as follows –

– Facilitate thinking and productive work –
On the one hand, this is working well. It helped reinforced my happiness with Outlook as I’ve found that the Gmail interface sucks my desire to work. However, on the other hand, I felt it called for much needed simplification. I’m down to 4 key email addresses I use a lot and I’ve set up email forwarding on 8 or so others (each project invariably had a separate email address)

Stay in touch and keep connected. Again, all good.

Search through past ideas, conversations, information. I do most of my search on gmail and realized I didn’t need desktop search anymore. Additionally, even if I did for a recent email, folders was only adding unnecessary baggage to the search. I had created folders as a part of an initiative to teach myself to be organized many years back. I’m happy with my ability to organize and they aren’t useful anymore.

So, I’m down now to a simpler Outlook interface – my primary folder is an “Archive” where I dump nearly everything that comes in. I have other folders – “Accounts,” “Feedback,” “Smile,” and “WIP” that I use for finances, 200 words project feedback, nice emails, and work-in-progress stuff. I have reduced my email use to 4 email ids – it feels light and easy.

This process didn’t take long – probably 3 hours in total – but has simplified a lot. I’ll also aim to share the results of my thinking around passwords and Lithium-ion batteries. A bit of thinking, a lot of simplification – loving it.