How to organize and manage your email
Posted on Feb 17, 2012
A big part of keeping your inbox and your email organized is discipline, along with having a system that you consistently put into practice. There are several tasks you can put into place upon checking your email to keep ahead of your email clutter.
1. Put your DELETE button to work.
- If you do not recognize the sender, look at the SUBJECT: field. Does the subject field contain enticing comments that only someone you know or do business with would say? Delete! None of these type of emails are from friends or folks you know, and won’t be from companies you do business with. They are from spammers—the worst kind too—those who underestimate your intelligence by thinking these emails will be something you would take seriously.
- If you don’t know the sender and the SUBJECT: field looks off, send them on their way to the trash; never respond to these messages (even to request removal from their email listings) since they use your response to note an active email address, keeping you hostage to their continued invasions of unwanted mail!
2. You are now ready to determine what to do with the remaining data that still needs to be organized in an efficient manner; this is where filters come into play:
- Filters, or Rules as they are called in Outlook, are what allow you to automatically organize your email.
- For example: A “Mom” filter that sends all email from dear old Mom right into your Mom folder.
- Set up filters to have email from your banking sites go directly into their own folders. You can even have information from your financial institutions automatically end up in a folder specifically divided into further folders (e.g., Annuity, CDs, Stock, Bonds).
- Your favorite site can have its own folder.
- And of course, filters for genealogical emails!
- The benefit of filters is that if you organize your email to go into their own folders on the download—your inbox will have less of your requested or expected emails—leaving only the questionable email for you to review.
- Filters only need be set up once and they stay in place until you delete them.
- You can use them to send certain email right to the trash, bypassing your inbox altogether!
3. Let’s go back to your inbox:
- With filters in place, all the email you requested/expected will automatically go into their appropriate folders for you to read at your convenience. Your inbox should only have the orphan email with nowhere to go.
- After following the suggestions in #1 above, begin to review your remaining email.
- If you run into an email that is from a new mailing list (you’ve subscribed to and plan on getting regular emails from), stop right there and make a folder and filter to accommodate these future emails.
- Set up a filter to look for something specific to that email (usually an email address works best), then moving forward, on the download, those emails will go right into their own folder.
- Do this for any email topic or contact for which you plan to receive email on a regular basis.
4. Read and delete unwanted emails:
- Read your email as time permits and then delete any email that doesn’t have content worth keeping for future reference.
- Loads of email files use a ton of your system’s resources, so empty your trash often.
- Not keeping copies of email you really will never need in the future helps remove the clutter and drain on system resources.
5. When reading your email you can prioritize when you want to address them in the future:
- Many email programs allow you to label email by color when viewing a particular folder.
- For example you could have labels that at a glance tell you how you have prioritized your tasks.
- Say—red for urgent, blue for later, and yellow for maybe.
- By opening that specific email box, you know at a glance which email you have set to address right away and which you can get to as time permits.
6. Create a folder called Follow-Up, Interesting, or To Do:
- This is where you will file some of the emails from your inbox that peaked your interest, that you would like to review in more detail but just don’t have the time right now.
- Then, when time permits you can go to that folder and check into the emails worth keeping.
- Once you review them, though, either send them to another folder for safe keeping or send them to the trash.
7. To avoid email backup, be sure your inbox is cleared each day:
- Move email to trash, a specific folder or your “To Do” folder, and then empty the trash.
- If email is older than 90 days in your “To Do” folder – send them off to trash as most likely the information or offer is no longer current.
- By doing so each day, you keep your inbox clear and your email much more organized.
8. Empty your trash daily:
- Be sure to take a quick ‘look-see’ just in case any of your filters inadvertently picked up on some terms that were included in email that you possibly didn’t want to trash. A quick once-over before deleting your trash will ensure legitimate email you do want to read doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
- Also, regularly empty your spam folder.