Snail mail ignorers
Some people get so addicted to their email that they decide they don't need to read their snail mail any more. That's another no-no. The existence of email doesn't excuse you from looking through your paper mailbox regularly -- even if 95% of its contents are junk. Check your paper mail at least once a day.
The agony of automatic deletions
Most email isn't stored locally on your workstation; most of it is stored elsewhere in your organization, on a server that's maintained by computer worker bees. This has the advantage to you, the user, of not clogging up your own personal hard disk with mail messages. The server's hard disk gets clogged up instead.
So what's a computer worker bee to do? Simple: Schedule periodic deletions. Where I used to work, all messages over 30 days old were deleted once a month. The computer folks usually gave us plenty of notice, and it was easy enough to save important messages before they were deleted. Easy, that is, if you didn't have hundreds of messages from the last two months to sort through. Or if you didn't forget to deal with them till you were halfway across the country on a trip.
The result of an automatic deletion is that your old email messages -- which have supplemented or replaced your paper chron file -- disappear. That might be great; there might be messages there that you'd rather have disappear. On the other hand, someday you might want a copy of the note your boss sent you saying "Don't worry about the Furshlugginer project; it's a low priority right now."
What can you do? A number of things:
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