Dear Cathy and Clare

I am increasingly worried about the size of my Inbox. I am almost embarassed to admit this but it currently has 6,207 items dating from way back September 2003 (and that doesn’t even include ‘Archived Folders’). Tom Kyte (who I admire and respect greatly) likes to keep everything in its place, spic and spotlessly span and currently has a single item sitting in his Inbox. And his finger is poised over the ‘Delete’ button to expunge that one too !

A very organised chap, who knows all about GTD, recommends creating a brand new shiny, empty folder called ‘DMZ’ and moving all the 6,207 messages into there. Apparently, this single action will produce the illusion of an empty Inbox, produce an enormous sense of well being and contentment (well until the next email arrives in 12 seconds), help me feel better about myself, shed two stones overnight, make friends and influence people, lift a massive psychological burden from my shoulders, help me to get things done, focus on the key objectives for 2006 and finally get that long awaited promotion.

However, I am a little reluctant to trust someone masquerading under the name of ‘43 Folders’. If he is so clever, why does he even need 43 folders and, more to the point, how many messages are in each one ? Enquiring minds want to know. Also, simply dumping my beloved email archives into a demilitarised zone would fill me with guilt. I would hate to think of all those technical nuggets, match reports, humorous anecdotes, sizable attachments, funny photos, jokes, customer testimonials (I am sure there is one buried in there) and managerial approvals that would be sitting unloved in the ‘DMZ’ folder.

In my heart, I know that I really should put aside four days to review all of those 6,207 messages and treat them appropriately. Most could be deleted, some would merit moving into a dedicated folder, that one from last summer about ergonomics in the workplace might look nice printed out and pinned above my desk and a miniscule rump would be left to help me get focussed on what is really important in my life and genuinely needs to get done.

However, if I were to set the time aside doing this administrative task, I simply wouldn’t be able to get anything done.

As Joseph Heller once said: ‘There was only one catch and that was catch 22’

Disorganised of London

PS. The count has now increased to 6,213