Don't use folders

Don’t spend your time on fruitless endeavors.

Many years ago my email inbox used to be a complicated tree of nested folders. When a new email came in I would move it to it’s niche location within that complicated tree, then promptly never look at it again.

One day my friend saw this and told me they have only two folders - the Inbox and the Archive. If they ever needed to find an email they could just use the search function.

Since that day I have used this strategy as well. I’ve never had a problem finding an email, and instead I never think about where to park an email when it comes in. I like this strategy so much that I’ve adopted it on my computer too.

There are essentially 2 folders on all my computers that matter: the Downloads folder, and the Projects folder. “Downloads” is mainly a dumping ground, and every so often I will trash the whole folder. The “Projects” folder actually has some subfolders too, which is mainly because each folder is a new Git repository (which of course has many subfolders).

When I open my code editor, I just add the “Projects” folder to the tree view so that I can jump between all the different projects that I work on. (I usually have Atom open on the projects folder, and VS Code open on the individual project that I’m working on at that time).

Why is this strategy better?


There are a few reasons why “no folders” works in these areas. First, my email and my personal folders aren’t collaborative so I don’t need to worry about other people finding items within them.

If this was a shared wiki or a public website then hierarchical content would help new users to navigate. For any situation where a user hasn’t seen the content before, folders help. My emails and projects are all filtered through me, the only important thing is that I know they exist so I can use search.

Search is so damn good these days. If you need to find something you can just search. It will pull up results quicker than you can navigate through a nested tree.

Less thinking

Spend your time thinking about things that are important. Your email categorisation strategy isn’t important.