How a ‘Five-Folder Inbox’ Will Change Your Whole Life

Flash back to the ’90s, when there was no greater delight than your AOL account announcing robotically: You’ve got mail! Now, flash forward to today, when a clear inbox is the ultimate email goal. But how to keep it that way? The five-folder inbox—a sorting solution from Fast Company—may be the answer.

What it is: Basically, the idea behind the five-folder inbox is that instead of filing your emails by topic (say, PowerPoint Presentations to the Boss), you file them by urgency (Today, This Week, This Month, FYI). Your inbox—the fifth folder—then becomes a holding pen for stuff that’s immediate, aka conversations that require an instantaneous back-and-forth.

But what does each folder mean? Today is for emails you need to deal with by end of day; this week covers emails that need to be addressed by end of week; and this month is for longer-term correspondence that you’ll need to circle back to. FYI is for projects that have wrapped, but you’d like to keep an email record of. That’s it.

An organized inbox is a happy inbox. Prioritizing is the new organizing.

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Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
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