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Should You Organize Emails in Folders?

A study from IBM Research suggests that organizing emails into a complex folder system might be a waste of time. In the study, people who organized their emails into folders not only spent time setting up the system and sorting emails into folders every day, they also were much slower at retrieving emails than people who used functions such as searching or threading.

More facts about emails:

  • The study suggests that one reason why using folders is so popular despite it being slower than threading or tagging is that many people try to use their inbox as a to-do list, and organizing emails into folders helps them see the to-do tasks more easily.

  • The most commonly used method of finding emails is simply scrolling through the inbox. This also is the slowest method.

  • An estimated 2.8 million emails are sent every second.

  • People spend an average of 10 percent of their email time filing messages into folders, and the average email user creates a new email folder about every five days.
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