We all know that email has been beneficial to us all in many ways. It's a quick and easy way to deliver a message and stay in contact with family, friends and business connections. With email, we can respond at our convenience -- no telephone tag or waiting on hold. And, it's extremely cost effective. You can basically send emails to anyone worldwide, and pay nothing more than a monthly fee! With the cost of postage these days, it's a bargain.
However, there is a down side. Just like paper clutter, you email can easily turn into "virtual" clutter. Now, in addition to having a mountain of paper, many people have an enormous amount of email to plow through every day. Here are a few Quick Tips for A Better Space to help you keep your email under control.
1. Check and manage your email on a daily basis. Schedule one or two consistent time periods each day to go through your email inbox. Get rid of as much email as you can each day. If possible, don't go to bed at night before clearing out your email inbox.
2. Take action. Just as it's easy to shuffle your paper around, it's also easy to do the "email shuffle". Try to take action on each email you open.
First, look at the subject lines and immediately get rid of any email that you don't need or want. So much of your email can be deleted without you ever having to open it!
Second, open each message one by one. If there are any that you can respond to immediately, do so. Usually, the message can then be deleted. Be brutal here. Again, most messages do not need to be kept after the action has been completed.
If you "really" need to keep a particular message, file it in a computer "folder". A computer folder is simply an area in your email program where you can "file" your messages so you don't have to print them out, but they're easily accessible when you need them.
Categorize these folders, just like you would with paper folders. For instance, if you like referring to some regular newsletters you get, make a computer folder for each of them. The name of each folder should be the name of the newsletter.
If you need to save confirmations for orders placed on line, make a computer folder for them by the name of the entity you are dealing with. Once the product is received, you can then delete the information from the folder.
3. Take advantage of filters. Some email programs come with an option which allows you to filter your messages. Check with your email provider to determine if you have this option and how to take advantage of it.
There are two common reasons that you might want to use your filtering capabilities:
a. Quickly storing emails you want to reference later: Let's say you get an email report every day from a co-worker that lists some numbers that you may need to reference, but you don't have to look at on a daily basis. You can filter email from that particular person directly into a computer folder. Then, when the person sends you the email report, it will automatically be moved into the folder you have set up for future reference.
b. Quickly getting rid of email you don't want: I recently was getting email messages, from a specific email address, that were unsolicited. After determining that it was impossible to get off this list, I decided to filter any email from that particular person right into my 'deleted mail' folder. Now, I never have to deal with it. Very often, you can filter by different variables, such as sender, subject line, messages with attachments, and so on.
4. Stories, jokes and email hoaxes are constantly being forwarded throughout the Internet. Some people really enjoy receiving these types of messages. (But again, they should be read and then deleted. They can become quite voluminous.)
Others don't have the time for them. If you don't have the time to receive such email, tell the senders that you'd prefer not to receive them anymore. It's not being rude. Simply tell the person that you're happy to receive a personal note from them, but you don't have time for the other types of email.
For example, one of my friends does not look at her personal email account at home, only the one at work. Since it was the only way for me to communicate with her, I sent her some funny emails on occasion. However, she became so busy at work she did not have time to read them and politely asked me to stop. Not offended in the least bit, I immediately stopped sending them to her and just sent quick messages to stay in touch.
5. Don't stay on lists that are not helping you. Be particular about the newsletter lists you sign up for and remain on. The lists you should be on are the ones that benefit you in some shape or form. If you start to find that they do not, opt out to avoid the influx of extra emails you do not need.
6. Print with caution. If you like printing a particular newsletter to read from your comfy chair in another room, that's fine. However, be careful about printing every single email you get. You don't want to double the problem by duplicating your email clutter into paper clutter. Remember, you can store email in folders on your computer. Yes, they'll take up some room on your computer, but at least they won't begin to clutter your home and your office too.
I guarantee that if you use these Quick Tips on a daily basis, you will find that you have greatly conquered your email clutter.
Until next time, if you have any organizing questions or problems you would like me to address, please feel free to contact me at A BETTER SPACE. I will be glad to help.