I know, I know. Inbox Zero is a great plan. But for some of us it's not practical to be continuously at zero, and especially when there are numerous input channels.
Right now I have three primary email inputs, and one #1 email kvetch:
- Outlook is my corporate-mandated mechanism for receiving emails at and through NVIDIA. Which suits me fine, I have Outlook's calendar sync'd to my Treo's planner and they get along reasonably well, as do the Outlook task list and the Treo's To-Do lists. Some features don't overlap, like the To-Do categories and the Outlook task color labels but this is a post about email. I let the I.T. department worry about archives and delete/mark-as-read liberally.
- I pump almost all truly personal email email to people who I consider primarily as local friends or who are part of my family through gmail and route that to my phone (Treo) via Snappermail. This is a pretty good setup considering that I can simply delete most everything after I've read it on the Treo, knowing that Google will keep a copy for later review as-needed (and naturally I keep all business-related confidential stuff completely away from gmail). A nice feature of Snappermail is that I can restrict the periods where it will sync, so I don't have to worry about automated email pings awakening me in the middle of the night (the phone is also my alarm clock).
- Apple's mail.app handles all the email streams for Botzilla.com, KevinBjorke.com, my Comcast email accounts, PhotoPermit, etc. That includes all my various Yahoo groups, forums, mailing lists, and other personally-related business emails like creditcard notifiers and so forth, for myself, Isaac, and Rebecca. I switched-over from Eudora some months ago during a particularly violent spam storm, which overwhelmed Eudora entirely. But I'm really tempted to switch again, just to get ahold of one crucial feature of Eudora that I've never been able to find in Apple's offering:
I can't tell what the rules have been doing to my mail.
In Eudora, when rules process mail, they leave a log, viewable continuously in a little window, that says that mail was received and shuffled to this mailbox or that mailbox. With Apple mail, I have no idea where the email went or even if email has been received or not unless I keep all the many email boxes in a known state (that is, 100% read at all times). The program hides information from me and puts the burden of organization onto me to keep in my head the opposite of what "productivity software" is supposed to do. For someone like me who can receive huge amounts of mail daily, but only has limited opportunities to process it, this is a nightmare.