Email Folders Are A Waste Of Time; Use Search Instead

Think your complex folder structure helps you find emails quickly? You’re wrong.

At least, that’s what a recent study by IBM suggests. Researchers tracked the computing habits of 345 email users, and discovered using the search function offered by Gmail and other modern email clients is faster than manually scrolling through folders. Add the time used creating and organizing your emails into folders beforehand and you’re probably wasting quite a bit of your life moving emails into folders only to waste more time looking through your folders later on.

Search, Don’t Sort

Do you sort your emails into folders based on who they’re from? Stop. A simple search can quickly bring up every email ever delivered to you from any one of your contacts.

You’ll get a list of all emails from the person just as quickly as if you sorted them, in a matter of seconds. Similarly, simply searching for a project’s name will almost always bring up every email related to that project. It’s just as good as folders but a lot quicker to use.

You’d be amazed how useful search can be for other things. Even if you don’t replace folders altogether, you might find yourself using them less if you make a habit of using the search function built into your email client.

Gmail comes with one of the fastest search features on earth, but check out the search function in your email client. You might be surprised.

Archive Your Stuff!

You might be wondering: if nothing is moved into folders, won’t my inbox fill up and eventually explode? That’s why there are archive and delete buttons in most mail clients today.

If you get an email that you don’t want to read, delete it. If you’ve read an email, don’t want to delete it, but also don’t want it to hang around in your inbox archiving is the thing to do. You will find archived mail in the “All Mail” section of Gmail, or by searching.

But then again…

Managing email is intensely personal, of course; everyone has their own system. Some aim to keep their inbox as empty as possible; others know anything unread needs tending to. Bring up different ways of managing email in our lab and you will hear a variety of opinions. Why not share yours in the comments below?

Some legacy software, such as Microsoft Outlook (which you should seriously stop using) do not include an archive function. Want to switch to something that does? Consider calling us. We’re Google Apps experts, so we can show you how to get the most out of searching your email.

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