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December 13, 2012updated 19 Aug 2016 9:27am

Are you an email filer or hoarder?

Which practice do you, er, practise?

By Jason Stamper Blog

I’m a hoarder. I find it almost impossible to swiftly and efficiently file the 400 to 500 emails I receive a day, so end up having to keep them in the hope of looking at them the next day, then the next day is just as email-heavy and they simply accumulate. There are currently 5,789 emails in my inbox, of which nearly 1,000 are unread. I have five more folders of older emails, each with over 5,000 messages in them.

Every Friday I do a ‘sort by sender’ to check I haven’t missed any from the boss. Every now and then I have a purge and delete a few thousand emails, but it takes me hours and I usually get bored and give up.

Anyway research just out from Varonis, a data governance software vendor, found that I am not alone. The study, questioning employees about their digital habits and vices, found that nearly a quarter receive between 100 to 1,000 emails and one in ten workers now faces more than 10,000 emails in their inbox.

In their struggle to stay on top of this email deluge, the study has revealed three different approaches: 34% of those questioned are ‘filers’, clearing their inbox on a daily basis and filing messages into folders. On the opposite end of the spectrum, hoarders, like me, make up 17% of the workforce.

The majority of respondents, at 44%, appear to "practice a hybrid of both practices" – that’s how the press release put it – to stay on top of their mailboxes. Of all those surveyed, 40% spend 30 minutes or more every day managing their email, in addition to reading and responding, equating to 120 hours every year. I reckon I must spend two hours a day reading, deleting and ignoring emails. Add another hour of writing emails to others and it’s a wonder I get anything done. While I’ve been writing this I’ve received 8 more emails. So 5,797 it is.

6% admitted to completely giving up on maintaining control over their email. The real number is probably far higher but no one likes to admit defeat.

David Gibson, VP of Strategy at Varonis, said: "We see a growing trend of people struggling and in some cases even giving up on – or deleting – their entire inboxes. It also appears that over-stretched employees are seeking more ways to clear their heads by taking virtual coffee breaks to browse the web or social networks."

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Another interesting factoid to emerge from the study was that managers are far more likely to be lazy you-know-what’s than more junior staff. That’s my reading of it, anyway: C-level employees and managers were more likely to waste time on social media sites than other employees, with over a quarter of management taking to Twitter and nearly a third to Facebook. In comparison, just 1 in 10 employees use Facebook at work, with even fewer workers Tweeting.

Are you a hoarder or a filer? Tell me at if you wish. Just don’t email me.


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