There was a time when I spent all day on my computer. Actually there was a lot of time like that, like pretty much all the time from 1995 until May 21, 2004. And that meant that I had time to go through my email as it arrived, more or less in real time. As the amount of spam I received increased, it became more annoying to go through mail, but it was manageable.
I use a combination system, with Spam Assasin as the first line of defense. If it makes it past Spam Assasin and it's from a mailing list, it goes into the appropriate folder. If it's addressed directly to me *and* the sender's address is in my address book, it goes into my Inbox. All else get shuttled into a folder called Suspect.
It used to be that I'd keep my eye on Suspect throughout the day, deleting bad stuff, moving legitimate emails from strangers into my Inbox. But now I'm rarely online for more than ~30 minutes a day. Some days I'm not online at all. And so my Suspect mail folder has grown from 1,000 messages to 3,000 to 5,000 to its current tally of 7,990 unread messages. Even if I manage to go through 500 in a day, by the next day I've downloaded hundreds more. I am losing the battle, and I admit defeat. The spammers have won.
I've created a new mailing address specifically for readers of the site to use to contact me. It's available on the contact page. If you need to reach me, please use that, as I'll be sorting that from now on into a different folder. And if you sent something and you haven't gotten a response — and you're not likely to be in my address book — you might want to resend. The chance of me getting through 8,000 unread mostly spam messages any time this year is slim to none.