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Email Organization

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Email

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Invest some time in email organization and reap the benefits of an efficient inbox. These tips on organizing email will take some time and maintenance efforts, but the improved efficiency with which you handle emails will make it worthwhile.

Use folders and filters.

Set up a folder system that makes sense for you. Carefully consider these folders because if you create too many you will be heading to a different folder for each piece of mail, but if you have too few then you are still sifting through mail within the folders. Also be sure to give them specific enough names that you can remember what goes in them. And don’t be afraid to change things if you find the folders you created aren’t working as efficiently as you hoped.

Once you have the folders set up then add filters to automatically send your mail to them. You can create filters by sender, perhaps the simplest kind to manage. You can also create them by keyword or subject matter, but I find these can send email to the wrong places. On the initial set up of folders, you will want to put some filters in place, but over time be sure to keep adding to them. When you receive an email that you think belongs in a folder, create the filter right then.

Delete, delete, delete.

I never tire of hitting that button. I know it seems like old emails don’t do much harm, especially if they are filed away in a folder. But they come up in searches of your email when you are looking for something else; they take up memory space; and so many are simply not needed. Why keep a conversation about what to have for dinner from 2009? Delete it as soon as it is resolved. And periodically purge emails that you need to save in the short term but don’t need to keep forever.

Use multiple email addresses.

This is one way to avoid spam; simply create an email address that you never check to receive all the offers and junk that you never wanted. But having more than one email address that you actually do check can be useful as well. First, it’s probably best to avoid using your work email address for personal correspondence. These emails are not private, and companies often don’t want employees using them for personal messages. Just be sure you don't end up too many addresses to keep track of.

Use an email client.

All of the above tips will be easier if you use an email program like Outlook or Thunderbird, for example. These programs will download your mail from the server to your computer, putting it all to one place, so you can check multiple email addresses at once. They have built in spam filters. And you can even have emails from multiple addresses sorted to the same folders. If you check your email on multiple computers, you will want to configure them so they don’t delete the mail off the server. This isn’t possible with every email address but to learn more about it read about IMAP.

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