7 tips for managing your email

Is your email out of control? Do you get more mail than you can possibly handle each day? Well, I feel your pain if you answered Yes to either of those questions.

7 tips for managing your email

First and foremost (which is what prompted me to write this post), check your email every day. If you only have a few messages to sort through, it makes sense to get them out of the way instead of letting them pile up.

There are times when I can't check my email every day, such as when we went camping a few weekends ago — yes, we did it in the heat of summer. When I got back, there were more than a hundred messages to go through.

Not only did it take me a while to sort through them, it also messed up my workflow for other things—more important things. Which is where the next tips come in.

Too many newsletters? Unsubscribe to newsletters you never read or even open. Unless you get our newsletters, in which case this tip doesn't apply. Ha!

This is one tip I do not follow...usually. Every once in a while I am in the mood for someone's newsletter, especially if they have a snappy title. And I usually don't mind mass deleting email. Gives me a sense of control, I guess.

So, sorry folks, I'm the type of newsletter subscriber that makes your MailChimp stats look bad. Oops! Maybe I'll try opening a few more from now on.

Use your email filters

If you don't unsubscribe from unwanted mail, you can at least filter them out. Send them to the junk folder or another folder. Don't send them to junk if you plan on going through them at some point in the future.

I have a folder with more than a 1,000 blog post notices. Guess if I'm ever bored, I won't have a problem finding something to read.

The delete key is your friend

A tip I've read a few times is that you should delete unwanted messages first ... without opening them. I kind of do this half way. I open a lot of stuff but then quickly hit the delete key.

However you do it, this can be a major time save. If you never read it, you don't get sucked into a time waste. Just don't do this with clients or messages from real people (as opposed to newsletters and other spammy stuff).

Sort to delete (or archive) in bulk

Another time that is good for using the delete key is once your email has taken over your computer, your inbox ... ahem ... your life. OK, maybe that last one wasn't true ... or maybe?

Anyway, if you have pages and pages of undeleted email, sort them by sender ... that way you can delete whole batches of unwanted email in one go ... without wanted messages getting in the way.

I also use this method to archive old conversations that never got put away. You see, I keep everything of even the littlest value because I may need it some day. And this isn't just the pack rat talking in me. There have been times (recently) where I've needed to consult emails from the early days of this blog.

Let the trash be — Don't touch it

Some say you should delete your trash folder (and this also goes for your junk folder). I say the opposite. I use Hotmail and Gmail. I know for a fact that Hotmail deletes the junk and trash folders for me on a regular basis. I think Gmail does too.

By me not doing it, I won't accidentally delete something I wanted to keep. Usually this means going into the trash folder and saving an email. Since Hotmail delays in deleting the folder, this gives me plenty of time to dumpster dive if I have to.

Don't forget to inspect the junk

Speaking of the junk folder, I routinely check the junk folder (daily if I remember). I do it quickly. Doesn't take but a few seconds to spot a piece of mail that isn't junk. Most of my junk comes from the same spam accounts, so I gloss over those like a couch potato with a TV remote.

This is a major life saver. You don't know how many times I've rescued messages from the pile. Important messages from clients.

Now, I'm not saying my rescue rate is 100%, so if you haven't heard from me, it could be that I actually ... really missed your message. (Of course, the more likely scenario is that I fumbled it in the mess of the real inbox ... but we won't go there, right?)

OK, it's your turn. What email tips do you have to offer?

Leave a comment below.