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How To Manage Your Email Mountain

Aug 17, 2007
Do you constantly check your inbox for new messages throughout the day?

Do you instantly go and read new email when you hear that alert go?

Emails can be a great time waster and provide a constant distraction throughout the day. If you're going to make the most of your day then one way to increase your productivity is to limit the amount of time you spend on emails.

- Set your email system to only check periodically or disconnect yourself from the internet except when you want to download emails.
- In Outlook Express - Tools - Options - General
- In Outlook - Tools - Options - Mail Delivery.

- Switch off the email notification in your mail system, such as alerts and pop-ups so you don't get distracted throughout the day and change the Checking time to 120/180 minutes.

- Only check your emails periodically through the day. Let's say first thing, late morning and again in the afternoon. Don't jump straight in and start responding to the first one. Take a few minutes to sort them into urgent/action, non-urgent and reading.

- If you need to spend time responding to emails, set aside time in your schedule to do that and limit the amount of time you spend. Either limit yourself to 30 minutes at a time or work to clear the existing action emails for as long as it takes (within reason!) without addressing any new emails. Leave those until next time

- Subscribe only to mailing lists and newsletters that you will read or use on a regular basis. Go through every few months and clear out and unsubscribe from what you no longer read. Many sites, including mine, will provide an archive of past newsletters.

- Use filters to organise incoming mail into different folders. These can be based on the sender or subject, so that mail automatically gets diverted into a specific folder and doesn't clog up your inbox.

- Why not use a different email address for different types of email? One specifically for business, one for personal, one for all your newsletters and one for less important things. It's also advisable to create one just for websites that may result in spam. This might sound complicated but it helps with the sorting process. You can set up your mail browser to pick up multiple accounts and then check the important ones regularly and the less important ones, less often.

- Once an email has been actioned, delete it or if you need to, file it in an appropriate folder. Try to keep your Inbox as clear as possible so you can easily see what's new.

Today, we're in danger of information overwhelm, especially via email. There is just so much out there. One thing I found helped and stopped me from feeling I HAD to read every email that landed in my inbox, was trusting that the right information will appear at the right moment, when I need it and of course ... there's always Google.
About the Author
Clare writes on several topics to help busy, stressed individuals and small business owners organise their lives more effectively.

Register for her monthly newsletter at www.clareevans.co.uk and receive free tips on managing your time.
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