Write From Home
P.O. Box 4145
Hamilton, NJ 08610
E-mail: kim @ writefromhome.com
TOP TEN WAYS TO HANDLE E-MAIL OVERLOAD
By Michael Angier
One of the biggest problems we face today is handling large
quantities of information. Our technology and access to
information is impressive but it's a double-edged sword. It
fills our minds and our lives with clutter.
The challenge is to sort, filter, organize, discard and
assimilate the massive amounts of data we're exposed to on a
On an average day I receive over 150 e-mails--some days as many
as 500. It's easy to get overwhelmed. So what are we to do? Here
are a few things I've found to help me manage my inbox better.
1. Don't Check Mail Every Few Minutes
This is a tough one for me, but it's much more efficient and
you'll stay more focused on your current work if you're not
constantly checking for new mail.
If you have a direct connection and your mail is delivered
automatically, you can still wait to respond every two hours or
so. By assigning a specific time to read and reply, you'll
definitely gain efficiency.
2. Flag Messages for Later Action
My wife thinks I go a bit overboard with this feature, but it's
the only way I can keep track of the messages that need
attention but can't deal with right away.
My program (MS Outlook) allows me to set the action and the time
and date of the reminder. You can still procrastinate, but at
least you know which ones and how many you're avoiding.
3. Use Folders
Most e-mail programs allow you to create folders (and even
subfolders) to sort your mail. This usually makes finding
messages much easier.
A small down side--at least for MS Outlook--is that your flagged
messages will no longer give you reminders if you've filed the
message in a folder other than your inbox.
4. Set up Rules
Most good e-mail programs will allow you to automatically sort
your e-mail as it comes in. This is done based on a set of
criteria you establish such as the content, the sender's e-mail
address, the address to which it's sent, etc.
You can do this by color-coding the e-mail or by sending it to a
particular folder--even the deleted items folder.
5. Deal with Similar Responses All At Once
By sorting your mail using the methods described above, you can
now deal with similar messages all at once. You save time by not
having to look up the same info all over again.
If your email client allows you to create templates, use them.
They'll save you oodles of time for those responses that require
the same or similar information on a regular basis.
Just create your new message based upon your pre-established
template and edit as needed.
You can also set up sig files (see below) and use them as
boilerplate responses or mini-templates.
7. Cut, Copy, Paste
One of the most powerful features of today's operating systems
and office suites is the ability to cut and paste--sometimes
multiple pieces of information to transfer from one document to
another. Save the typing time. Copy from other documents and
paste into e-mail.
If you don't know how to use this feature, learn today. You'll
wonder how you got by without it.
8. Make Heavy Use of the Delete Key
Hardly anything can free up your inbox more than deleting e-mail
you don't want. Hitting the delete key or delete button is the
best way to dump data.
9. Signature Files
I use different signatures for different parts of my
business--five or six of them, in fact. I also create them for
boilerplate paragraphs to insert common responses into my
messages. It's very powerful.
10. Customize Your Program
Most people use only 20-30% of a program's capability. Take this
up to even 50% and you'll marvel at your added efficiency.
Investing some time in learning more of the features of your
e-mail program and then customizing it to work the way YOU want
it to will pay big dividends.
Related Article (short): Do You Suffer from Information
Copyright 2001 Michael Angier & Success
Michael Angier is the founder and president of Success Networks.
Success Net's mission is to inform, inspire and empower people
to be their best--personally and professionally. Download their
free eBooklet, KEYS TO PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS from
memberships, books and SuccessMark Cards are available at
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