It’s 2011, and it’s a fresh start for all of us. One of the best things we can do to eliminate a little stress is to clean out our e-mail inboxes. This is really a simple process. It doesn’t require any coding, hardware maintenance, software updates, or new systems. But it does involve time and discipline.
Let’s take a look at a few simple things you can do to get your inbox under control.
Folders are the most under-utilized e-mail feature. Many of us simply leave our e-mails in the inbox, knowing that we can find them later if needed. But finding them is never easy. We forget who an e-mail was from, forget when it was sent, or forget other key details that would help you find the information you need. How many times have you been on the phone saying “I know there’s an e-mail somewhere ...”
If you separate your e-mails into meaningful groups, you will be much more likely to find them quickly. You can create folders for shopping, for recipes, for school stuff, for each member of the family, or any other category you can think of. After you take appropriate action with an e-mail, it’s time to file it away in a folder.
Don’t use your inbox as a to do list
Inboxes have become impromptu project calendars, of sorts. We highlight messages, mark them as “unread,” or otherwise make a notation to remind us to take action. New tools from e-mail providers allow us to do many things with the e-mails sitting in our inboxes, but none of them compete with a traditional calendar or scheduling tool.
How many times have you highlighted a particular e-mail for follow-up, only to have it buried on the third page of opened e-mails? If an e-mail contains an item that belongs on your to do list or calendar, simply transfer the information to the appropriate location. It is much easier to stay organized if you keep your inbox free of tasks and appointments.
Take out the garbage
When you take your garbage to the street for pickup, you don’t expect it to appear on your front lawn a few days later. The same is true about e-mail garbage. If you get an unwanted message, mark it as SPAM. This helps your e-mail provider filter out future e-mails that don’t belong in your inbox. Don’t be afraid to block a domain if you get repeated e-mails, either. Use the tools available to make sure the only e-mails coming to your inbox are the ones you asked for (and the ones from Aunt Mildred).
Following these simple steps will help you avoid the stress that comes with a cluttered inbox. If you need technical help getting your e-mail systems set up and optimized, give The Computer Guys USA a call at (928) 468-0000. We’ll be here to make sure your equipment and security features are up to date.
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC and CEO of “The Computer Guys USA” with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.