Use a before filter to create an email DMZ

out.of.control.emailIf you’re like many the end of January marks the time when you realize that you haven’t kept up with your New Year’s Resolutions.

  • You haven’t been to the gym in a couple weeks
  • You’ve already cheated on the diet
  • That stack of paperwork is still sitting there
  • Your inbox is still out of control

While I can’t help with everything, your email inbox I can make a suggestion on – slim it down so it doesn’t look as large of a task.

First, I’m not going to suggest that you declare email bankruptcy and just delete everything. I’m also not going to suggest selecting everything and hitting the ‘mark as read’ and ‘archive’ buttons. I’m going to suggest you create an email DMZ that you can work through as time allows.

If use Gmail for your mail among the many features you have available to you is an outstanding search system (go figure). What we’re going to do is create an email DMZ for the year 2012 and then move everything prior to January 1st of 2013 into it.

First thing you need to do is create a new label for your DMZ, I would suggest 2012 DMZ as we’re looking to create a place for our left over 2012 emails to go. Once you have your label set up you need to then use the powerful search available to you in Gmail and grab all the emails prior to January 1st. As it turns out it’s a single search option with the right data point:

filter

As you can see in the screen capture above the trick is to use the “before” option in the search. When you use this option it’s important to not the way the date is entered – four digit month first, two digit month, and then the two digit day. For a lot of folks that format is not what you’d expect and takes a bit to get use to but once you do it’s a rather powerful way to write the date (more on that in a later post).

Once you get the search results back you can apply your DMZ label and then archive the whole shooting match out of our Inbox.

I can hear you screaming at me now, “you said we wouldn’t archive all that email!” Ok, you got me, yes we did archive it out of your inbox but at this point it’s also all tagged with a label so you can find all of those emails in one place, a listing you can work through. Of course you may just decide to leave them all there and not touch them again – that’s a choice you’ll need to make yourself.

Do you use a DMZ for email or do you just declare bankruptcy and delete everything?