Keeping on top of your email

I should practice what I preach more often!

I don’t know about you, but I am hopeless at managing email! I had thousands of emails in my inbox that I hadn’t even opened. So a few weeks ago, I finally decided to give my inbox a “spring (or should that be autumn) clean”. Below is a list of some of the techniques I used, which I hope you can also put to good use.

Setup rules, filters, or labels
All current e-mail services have rules, filters or a labelling system that allow you to organise incoming e-mail. For example, you may want to have an Amazon or an Ebay filter to automatically add them into an on-line shopping folder. You could also do this for emails from family members or emails related to work. It’s also a great tool to automatically mark certain emails as spam.

Do not be afraid to delete
Delete as much as you can! One way of doing this for a very full inbox is to scan the messages in your inbox, and when you land on one that you’re going to delete, try sorting the inbox by sender and see if there are other messages from this same person worth deleting.
If you’re not sure about deleting a message, create a folder called “To Delete Later” and move it there.

Keep it simple
People often over complicate their e-mail by creating dozens of different folders to help organise their e-mails.

Unsubscribe from newsletters
Although you may have had good intentions when subscribing to a newsletter or other e-mail list, these are often distracting and will clutter your e-mail. Unsubscribe from any newsletter you no longer read.

Disable Notifications
Notifications from social network sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter will also clutter your inbox. If you regularly log into your social network sites, disable all email notifications about posts made on your wall, new friends or followers.

Do not reply to spam
If spam sneaks past your protection or rules never, ever reply to it. DELETE IT.

Delete some more
Finally, if after following all the above steps you still have e-mails that are weeks old, delete them. Then go back to the emails in your “To Delete Later” folder and see how you feel about deleting the emails there.

At the end of the day, it’s all about finding a system that works for you. Take these tips and adapt them to your situation. An uncluttered mailbox is always a good thing, but being able to quickly find the information you need is the ultimate goal.

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Philip Brooks