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Email Management: Don’t Let Email Run Your Life

January 16th, 2009

If you are anything like me, you are bombarded with email. In particular, you get messages from clients, spammers, friends, family and associations or groups of which you are a member.  Without  proper preparation for such a massive amount of email, you might find yourself swimming in emails.  Email was created to be a tool to save you time, but if you can’t find an effective way to organize it, you will most definitely be losing time to it instead of gaining time from it. The following are some ideas that will help you use your email program to save time:

-If your email’s spam filter isn’t doing a good job catching unwanted emails, check its settings. Usually in your email options, there will be junk email settings.  Set the protection to a higher level.  This should take care of at least a little more of the unwanted spam.  If you have your email set to a high level already and are still receiving lots of spam, consider getting spam blocking software.  Googling “stop spam” or “spam blocker” will give you a large list of options from which to choose.

– Consider setting up an autoresponder. An autoresponder can handle a great deal of general questions that you get on a regular basis. All you have to do is set it up once and your message(s) can go out hundreds or even thousands of times.  Autoresponders are also great at sales, so to speak.  They do all the work for you. When someone opts in to your list, you can set up your autoresponder to send a series of messages in a specific order at set intervals.

– Save commonly sent email messages as signatures. Signatures don’t only have to be actual signatures.  You can save whole email messages as signatures and name them accordingly.  For example, if you commonly follow-up with individuals you have met at your local Chamber of Commerce meetings, you could title your signature “follow-up” and save a message such as:

“Dear Mr. X,

It was such a pleasure to meet you at the last Chamber meeting.  I hope that we have a chance to speak again at…”

Of course you would have to change details such as the name the email is addressed to, along with other more specific information, but the template will be ready within a few clicks of your mouse.

– Read and respond to emails at set intervals throughout the day. Checking your emails as they come in is most definitely a common mistake that people make.  Stopping the work you are doing to check emails is extremely inefficient.  Your tasks will take much longer to complete if they are subject to constant interruptions.  Set a recurring reminder on your email calendar to check emails 4 times per day.  Only check and respond when you are scheduled to do so.

– Separate your emails into folders. Just as you organize your documents into folders on your computer, so should you with your email.  A good organizational system will make it much easier to find what you need when you need it.  You can also set up rules in some programs so that your email gets automatically sorted as it arrives.

– Color code your emails. Some email programs such as MS Outlook allow you to color code your email based on certain criteria, such as who it’s from or the subject.  This will allow you to more easily differentiate between important and insignificant emails.  For example, if you color code all of your client emails in red, then you will easily be able to see them within a sea of emails.

Email is a great tool if it is used properly.  When it’s not, it can have a very negative effect on your time management.   By learning to implement even a few of these simple steps, you can become a more efficient email user and stop losing time to a technology that was meant to save you time.

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2 Comments so far:
  1. What is the best freeware spamblocker on the internet ?’-‘

  2. Kelly KellyVA says:

    I tend to just stick with Outlook’s spam blocker, but if that’s not enough protection for you, there are quite a few free ones out there. Mailwasher is a good one, but have never used it myself. Here’s an article I found specifically on the best spam blockers: http://email.about.com/od/windowsspamfightingtools/tp/free_spam.htm

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