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Better email productivity

Posted on by Clive Walker in News

I wrote this post a while back. The content can still be relevant but the information I've linked to may not be available.

After a few days away without laptop or email access, I returned to a large pile of emails! Moments like this make me realise just how many trivial emails I receive. By 'trivial', I mean 'new link added/new comment on your website/blog' notification emails and various other informational emails. In the course of a normal day, these are easily manageable, but over a few days, they tend to mount up.

It's very easy to get sidetracked by emails pinging into your Inbox [even without a few days away] and here's a few general email tips that I use to make email management easier:

  • Treat the Inbox as a To Do list or Pending folder. I try and keep my Inbox as empty as possible by archiving or deleting emails that do not contain tasks. I always archive an email when I have replied or completed the task. This keeps my Inbox clear.
  • Add filters for notification emails. I set-up filter rules that keep my Inbox clear of notification emails. Instead, they go straight into separate folders. The separate folders are set to auto delete messages after a day or so. I can still see that new notifications emails have arrived but they do not clutter up my Inbox.
  • Mark As Junk. I use Thunderbird as my email client which can 'learn' which emails are junk/spam and tag them accordingly. I have a rule that will move any Junk emails into the Deleted/Trash folder as soon as they are identified as Junk by myself or Thunderbird.
  • Edit As New. Thunderbird has a neat feature that allows you to edit an existing email and resend it. For some reason, my previous email client did not have this but I find it to be a real time saver, particularly for reminders or repetitive emails.
  • Archive emails into Client subfolders. I keep pretty much all of my emails to clients as a record of what was agreed and to keep track of the work completed. This helps invoicing at the end of the month because I just go through the appropriate Client folder and add the items to my invoice.
  • Group Emails by Date. For folders that contain a lot of archived emails, I use a feature that allows me to Group Emails by Date. This helps de-clutter the folder because 'Older' emails get moved into their own group.

These are just a few things that I do but I guess the overriding principle here is to organise everything. I never used to do this but a few minutes organising every day can make a big difference to email productivity I find.

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  • 14 Feb 2008 22:27:00

    Email can be an absolute nightmare sometimes. I too like to get my email box to an empty status but I hesitate to call it a to-do list.

    If you aren’t familar with the Getting Things Done concept you might want to check it out! You can Google “Getting Things Done”.

    I also use a plugin in my Outlook that helps tremendously. Letting me do thing like Defer Messages until a later time when they magically re-appear in my inbox.

    Great post

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