Don’t manually file your email anymore.

July 23rd, 2014

Experts weigh in on avoiding email filing time-traps

Today’s post is by Michael Figueroa, Account Manager at SafeSourcing

In my never-ending quest to squeeze more time out of each day, I find myself at odds with colleagues who believe that we MUST manually file away every email that touches our inbox into its own appropriate sub-folder to maximize efficiency. However, when I want to access an old email, I just type in a relevant email address or similar search term and, and within seconds, there it is. Of course my observation is strictly anecdotal, so let’s look at some empirical research.

     ● In a 2011 study by IBM it was said; “People who create complex folders indeed rely on these for retrieval, but these preparatory behaviors are inefficient and do not improve retrieval success. In contrast, both search and threading promote more effective finding” 1.
     ● The IBM study went on to suggest that the reason why people typically manually file their email is because they feel overwhelmed with the volume of messages they receive, and manually filing each message gives them a sense of control.
     ● Microsoft published a “best practices” guide to Outlook that made similar recommendations; “Reduce the number of places where you manually file messages. Reduce the mental tax of filing by relying on search to locate messages”2.  
     ● There are multiple technology reviewers and business consultants that repeat the “do not manually file” mantra from Harvard Business Review 3 , Mindtools , and Productivity Hacks , need I go on?

If you have an extremely slow computer or exchange server, or a shared group email address, or stringent archiving requirements due to legal concerns, etc, dispersing your email into multiple folders can definitely be beneficial. However, most of these process can be automated by setting up “move” rules for incoming mail, and don’t need for you to spend time manually clicking and dragging. There are a lot of reasons to manually file all of your incoming email, but efficiency is not one of them.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.
We look forward to your comments.

[1]  Whittaker, Steve et al. “Am I wasting my time organizing email?: a study of email refinding.” Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 7 May. 2011: 3449-3458.

[2] “Best practices for Outlook 2010 – Outlook – Office – Microsoft.” 2011. 11 Jul. 2014 <>

[3] “Tip for Getting More Organized: Don’t – Michael Schrage …” 2013. 11 Jul. 2014 <>

[4] Sarah Pavey. “Managing Email Effectively – Mind Tools.” 2011. 11 Jul. 2014 <>

[5] “Productivity Hacks: I Empty My Inbox Every Day | LinkedIn.” 2014. 11 Jul. 2014 <>

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