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The smart way to tame your email in 2021: Embrace a little chaos

I spend more time thinking about email than any reasonably sane human should. From advanced Gmail settings to intricate tab training techniques, I’ve tried just about everything under the sun (and then some) to keep my inbox under control.

Now, as another new year approaches, I’m taking on a strategy that seems almost absurdly at odds with the sea of folders, labels, and other email organizing systems in front of us. Those tools, I’ve come to realize, are often doing more harm than good. And that’s why I’ve decided to manage my email by mostly just ignoring them—and doing absolutely nothing.

All right—so “nothing” might be a little misleading. I’ll still answer emails, as needed (and only with mild disgruntlement), and I’ll archive messages as I deal with them. But in terms of actual ongoing organization, I won’t devote any meaningful time or energy to marking my emails in any particular way or filing them away in any specific manner.

In other words, I’m embracing a deliberately disorganized inbox in the name of email efficiency. And counterintuitive as it may seem on the surface, there’s a reasonable argument that it might just be a sensible strategy for success—one that you, too, would be wise to adopt.

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