Saturday, January 21, 2012

Email Account Zero Achieved

In my "Email is Broken" post I outlined a game plan for getting myself out of the business of managing email. This morning I took a big first step in achieving email account zero, which is not only inbox zero but also means I don't have any email stored in folders in my email account.

Going back through my old email folders was pretty eye-opening. I had thousands of messages dating back to 2006, so for the most part I took the "if you haven't looked at it since you can't remember you don't need it" approach and deleted large swaths of email with reckless abandon. I at least scanned each folder to see if anything jumped out at me but (surprise!) it was all outdated crap.

I did have email folders for "Accounts," "Servers," and "Serial Numbers" that took a bit more attention since they had information in them I didn't want to lose. For those folders I looked at each email and moved the information to the following places:

  • If it was something like a server name, IP address, etc. I made sure it was in our server wiki on FogBugz
  • If it was login information for an application, I put that information in KeepassX
  • If it was a software serial number for server software (meaning not a personal serial number just for me) I made sure it was in our serial number wiki in FogBugz
  • If it was a software serial number for an individual license for me personally, I put it in a Tomboy note for serial numbers
  • If it was an email containing at attachment I wanted to save, I saved it to my local hard drive in a logically named directory
  • If there was email in my inbox that was only sitting there as a "to do" reminder, I put it in a "to do" note in Tomboy

Also I have one particular application that sends out a lot of alerts that contain important information, but that typically someone other than me has to do something about, so I took myself off that distribution list. The info is all saved in log files anyway so I can always trace it back that way if there is something I need to look at.

And with that I have zero email in my account, I'm much better organized, and I'm not relying on email as a filing cabinet. Email wasn't designed for that so it's no wonder it sucks at it.

Much more ahead but this big step eliminates a lot of what Scott Hanselman calls "psychic weight" I was feeling related to my email.

Next up is adventures with StatusNet and stopping treating email as IM.

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