The One E-mail Folder that Changed My Life

Is that a super click-baitey title? Yes

Is it currently true for me? Also Yes!

Me being unemployed hasn’t had any reduction in my email volume. I didn’t have a work email and didn’t really have any duties, besides seasonal reminders and all I had to do was create and send them, that involved email. My big email production area is my volunteering. This quantity probably looks like nothing to a lot of people but to me the roughly 40-50 emails I got a day that required me to read them carefully and a lot of times respond thoughtfully had become so overwhelming that I started to feel panicked every time my phone buzzed because I knew it was probably another email and it probably wasn’t going to be something nice or fun but something that I needed to be actively engaged in problem solving. Whew that was a run-on sentence!

Photo by Torsten Dettlaff on

I was tired and on the verge of a complete breakdown.

I don’t know where I got this idea, but Annie LeRoux of @thelaminimalist on Instagram talks about hitting inbox 0 every day, before she starts her work day. And I was trying to do that by reading, responding to, and filing every email every morning and I wasn’t getting started on job applications or actual work until about 1pm and it was distracting me from the job hunt, which should be my number 1 focus at the moment.

So I made a folder called “Today’s Pi Phi emails” (I volunteer as an alumnae advisor for the sorority I joined in undergrad). As I get emails throughout the day I scan the subject line to see if it is truly urgent. If it isn’t (and 99% of the time it isn’t) I put it in the “Today’s Pi Phi emails” folder, and then in my calendar I have a time block for Pi Phi emails. I’ve only been doing this for a week but it has honestly changed everything for me. I am more focused when I am applying to jobs, I don’t worry so much that I misplaced an email or didn’t respond to something I should have, and I generally am way less stressed out about the workload my volunteer position currently is (we’re down 2-3 volunteers at the moment and as chairwoman the work comes up to me). It seems like such a simple hack but I can’t get over the difference it has made in my life in just a week.

Can’t lie this kind of feels like showing your underwear drawer on the internet.

I also think that stuff like this is what productivity hacks, life hacks, whatever, are supposed to do for us. A productivity hack should improve your life so fantastically, quickly. And this was so low effort, I made an extra email folder. It took seconds and it’s totally changed everything.

I also made another email folder called “Zoom call links”, which has also been useful, but not nearly as game changing as the “Today’s Pi Phi emails” folder.


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