12. July 2004, 20:51 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

Increasingly people who regularly use the Internet are seening the amount of e-mail in their inbox swell to considerabl amounts. The following are a few pointers to help control your e-mail before it becomes unmanageable.

Perhaps one of the most efficient things you can do to manage your e-mail is to check your e-mail on a schedule. By checking your inbox every time a new e-mail arrives you cut into more productive use of your time. Unless you are waiting for an urgent item, or your work requires responses as soon as received, stopping to read e-mail as it arrives interrupts work flow and train of thought. Establish a schedule for yourself. One system is to check e-mail first thing in the morning, again after lunch, and again before leaving work for the day. At other times, ignore the inbox or disable your mail client. You'll still get your mail, and get a lot more done.

You can streamline your e-mail usage by being selective about what you subscribe to. Despite their surface appeal, just “say no” to newsletters, chain letters, and joke lists. Take the time to get off mailing lists you accidentally get on (not spam lists but genuine lists) and try to avoid subscribing in the first place. If you find that you are deleting regular -emails without opening them or checking to see if there is something worth reading, then it’s time to unsubscribe from the list.

It is increasingly common to have multiple e-mail accounts scattered across the net. Try and cut back and limit yourself to one or two that redirect to a central permanent box that you can forward to your own ISP account and access via the web. It makes it easier if your correspondents don't have to keep track of multiple addresses. It also makes it easy if you change ISPs as you only have to change the redirect rather than make sure everyone got the change of address. Note that the exception to this is that you might want to have a “throw away” mail account with one of the free mail providers for receiving mailing lists, signing up for web sites, or on usenet postings. If it becomes overrun with spam, you can get another, transfer your subsriptions, and just let the “infected” account die off as most such free accounts are dropped after 30-90 days of inactivity. If you have it set to forward to your main mail account, remember to remove the forwarding before you abandon it.

Keep your inbox uncluttered. Virtually all e-mail clients will permit the creation of directories or “folders” to sort mail into, either manually or via filters in the software. Microsoft Outlook for example lets you colour code mail based on preset criteria. Skimming mailing list messages lets you see if there is anything you want to rea more fully and if not just save them for later referral or deletion. Sorting by subject or sender adn then doing this kind of cursory check can save a great deal of time. Additionally, read, respond and file messages as soon after receiving them as possible to avoid a backlog. Every few months, houseclean your active directories or folders, and either archive your old mail or delete it.

It goes without saying that one should avoid spam. Unfortunately that is easier said than done. The avoidance and handling of spam is a topic too extensive for this short note and will be dealt with in a subsequent article.

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Keywords: e-mail,email,management



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