Not all email users are created equal.
According to Dharmesh Mehta, senior director of Outlook.com, email users can be separated into three distinct categories, based on their daily interactions with their inboxes.
“There’s no one rule for email,” he says. “There’s just different styles.”
So: Which one are you?
Deleters spend the start of their day simply cleaning out their Inboxes in an attempt to restore order. According to Mehta, roughly 50% of people “take about a third of their Inbox and, before they even read the mail, they delete it.”
Filers keep their Inboxes running like a well-oiled machine. They’re organized and have mastered a system of tricks for keeping their mail in recognizable order.
“They have a lot of power tools to get through their Inbox and keep things where they want them,” Mehta says.
“Someone with 30 or 40 thousand things sitting in their Inbox is someone we’ll call a ‘piler,’ ” Mehta says.
A piler’s Inbox is a dangerous place for important emails and reminders. As messages arrive, they risk being lost in the swamp of neglected emails.
“Pilers will tell you, ‘there’s something really important that I missed,” he says. “‘Like an important email, or something I forgot about, or something I was supposed to do.'”
What is a piler to do?
After all, once your Inbox is truly out of hand, it’s not easy to restore order. Mehta’s advice: You’ve got to start somewhere, even if it’s just changing one thing.
“You’re probably not going to want to stop piling,” he says. “While theoretically you might say ‘I’d like to get my inbox to zero,’ you probably never will.”
“So I kind of just try and get them to change just one thing and make sure those important things get flagged, get filed, right to the top.”
If you’re a Deleter, Filer, or Piler (or you’re just having trouble with your Inbox), check out another chat with Mehta, where he shares three fast ways to tame an unruly Inbox.
And if you think you aren’t any of these three email personalities, tell us in the comments what kind you are–and why.