I’ve shared recently how email is arguably one of the most efficient forms of business communication (and sometimes personal as well). And sometimes, it’s helpful to have more than one inbox. I have a personal inbox, one for work, one for junk mail, one for school, and another for web work. Sometimes managing all those inboxes can be a real task!

Modern email clients often have a tree view or folder view in a sidebar at the left side of the screen which allows easy access to multiple mailboxes, but can add to the confusion of trying to manage those inboxes.

Recently I’ve been turning off that tree view or folder list, so I effectively have a two-pane email window, a list of messages on the left, and a pane to the right that displays the selected message. Initially, it was a little intimidating not having my familiar folder list there where I could look at all the different folders one at a time, but those folders are usually only a click or two away when I need them (and I really don’t need them that often) but I quickly got used to the cleaner simpler interface.

One of the things that enabled me to do this more efficiently is a recent change in the way I archive mail. In times past I’ve had folders for just about everything that could come into an inbox. Some had only a single message in it from years ago, others were overflowing with years and years worth of mail that I never actually looked back at. More recently, I’m using the archive feature available in all of the mail programs that I use. I right click on a message I want to save, and select archive. That’s it! All the mail I archive this way winds up in a single mailbox with all the archived mail stored chronologically and easily searchable. No more wondering if I put mail into the ”receipts” folder or the ”dining out” folder.

That’s helped me stream line the way I deal with multiple mailboxes, and really simplified mail management.