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Inbox zero, stage three

You may recall that I am striving for inbox zero, and dealing with the fact that I had about 200K messages in my inbox to start with. In my first real day of dealing with the issue, I tried moving a lot of messages to long term storage folders, but ended up having my mail client and our Outlook server get into a state of confusion for about two thirds of them and they ended up in a Recovered Messages. But that did leave me with under two-hundred messages in my primary inbox, as well as some others in my other inboxes.

In this stage of trying to get to inbox zero, I’m dealing with three issues: the other inboxes, the Recovered messages from my main mailbox that I want to save, and the under-two-hundred messages in my primary inbox.

For most of my other inboxes, which are relatively small, I can simply create a Save folder for the account and move things there, perhaps cleaning up a bit as I go. Done. The MathLAN inbox is more of a problem, since it contains important stuff and we no longer have a MathLAN server. I think those files need to move to my Mac. Now I can delete my MathLAN account. Yay!

Or maybe not. Deleting the MathLAN account crashes [1,2]. I hate computers.

Moving things from Recovered messages is slower, particularly since I want to deal with smaller batches. But I let each batch run through while I work on other things.

What other things? Well, I actually had about a dozen messages to send about various issues, mostly to set up appointments with people. I did some cleaning of my inbox, and the associated work with cleaning the inbox. I tried to scan 90+ pages, only to have our photocopier/scanner eat the scans [3]. I met with our peer education coordinator to discuss all sorts of issues, from class observations, to evening tutor schedules, to the summer code camps. I posted a message about our awesome new 4+1 BA/MCS program with UIowa. I chatted with one of our Digital Liberal Arts Technology Specialists about VR stuff [5]. I looked for my copy of Getting Things Done, which I thought I’d put in the CS Commons. I answered lots of email, including some questions about my role as CUR Liaison [6]. I took a package to the post office. I filled out the ACM NDC Survey [7]. I tried to figure out why an email from the Registrar’s office to the faculty had about 1025 recipients [9].

Oooh. More fun error messages.

The message Academic Affairs and Office of the Dean - Academic Affairs and Office of the Dean - Faculty Dates to Remember - SharePoint Calendar could not be moved to the mailbox 2015

Operation would change object type, which is not permitted.

Don’t you just love Outlook?

It took me most of the day to move the messages, partially because I was moving them in medium sized batches, and didn’t always remember to check. Here are the stats from the end of the day

  • 2008: 8,874 messages, 530 unread
  • 2009: 7,980 messages, 1,557 unread. Hmm … the ratio is getting worse. But look, I have email from Ian Atha about c-jump a board game that teaches programming and, even though it supports an open-source project, is patented. Bad Karma, there.
  • 2010: 11,417 messages, 2,605 unread. Why did my year end with a discussion with a barefoot tutorial advisee entitled Brief notes on discussion diagram? (And no, the discussions were not about that.)
  • 2011: 13,457 messages, 2,953 unread. Ooh! I was writing to students at the end of the year about C strings vs. Pascal strings.
  • 2012: 15,972 messages, 6,306 unread. Wow, that’s a big increase in unread messages. And lots of them are clearly not needed. Oh well, I’ll come back to those later.
  • 2013: 21,466 messages, 8,839 unread. Hmmm … I’m sensing a theme here.
  • 2014: 26,701 messages, 8,200 unread. Ooh, I was more likely to read messages this year. Or maybe just more likely to keep read messages.
  • 2015: 32,026 messages, 12,195 unread. Wow! Look at t hose numbers increase. But why are some of them labeled Today? The content suggests that they are from 2015. Cool! The headers have no date. Oh, and there’s an email from me about a writing workshop, in which I suggested the organizers read Guy Steele’s Growing a Language [10] and Paul Graham’s essay on editing. It’s finding stupid emails like this that make me enjoy keeping my old messages.
  • 2016: 39,864 messages, 17,258 unread. A great cap to the project.

Now, I’m not yet at inbox zero. I still have 100 or so messages left. But I’m doing better. But what happens when the semester starts and (a) I get many more messages from students and (b) I have much less time? Stay tuned for about two weeks from now, and I’ll update you.

[1] Repeatedly.

[2] Since crashed when I deleted the account from within, I tried deleting the account in System preferences. That caused to freeze. Yay!

[3] I should learn just to have the ASAs [4] do this work. They are generously redoing it for me.

[4] Awesome support assistants.

[5] I also turned down an offer to serve on the advisory panel for his new VR initiative. Perhaps Jerod will want to do that when he returns.

[6] Those emails were puzzling, since I didn’t know that I was Grinnell’s CUR Liaison.

[7] When Jerod takes over as chair, he should make our ASAs do the demographic data for our students. It’s a pain to do by hand, and they can probably get it from OASIR [8].

[8] Office of Analytic Support and Institutional Research, one of our five-letter acronyms.

[9] Answer: Many faculty had their names duplicated. I appeared fourteen times in the recipient list.

[10] I’m not sure whether I prefer the essay or the video. Both are fun [11]. I do wish they’d kept his transparencies in the video.

[11] It’s from 1998, so folks should not be offended by the gender binary at the beginning.

Version 1.0.1 of 2017-05-28.