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Making Email a Manageable Tool

It might be said that the invention of email has been our very own present day Guttenberg printing press communication revolution. Unquestionably, email has reduced the need for paper and has sped up communication time dramatically. However, it has also moved the mountain of clutter from our desktop into our Inbox. With the sheer number of emails received in the course of a day, navigating and sorting through them can sometimes overpower our time management skills. But with a little organization and a few rules, you can shape email into the effective tool it was intended to be.

Build Some Structure into Your Inbox - Setting up folders within your Inbox is a great way to get organized. You can make folders for a particular project or client. It can also be helpful to divide them first according to urgency, and then into specific categories. It is possible to set “rules” in your email program to channel particular messages into these folders. This is a good way to keep automated notices or non-essential emails like e-promotional campaigns from clogging your primary Inbox.

Set Some Time Aside - If you are able, try to schedule certain times in your day to check your email. You may want to consider turning off notifications to avoid interruptions while you attend to other important tasks. This is not practical for everyone of course, and if you must check email regularly, try to use your time as efficiently as possible. Set a time limit, such as a minute or two, to be spent on each email. If a message takes more time than that, put it into a file to be handled at a scheduled time later.

Trim the Amount of Email You Receive
- Obviously the best way to make your Inbox more manageable would be to have less email in it, so try to cut down where you can. Unsubscribe from unnecessary publications and automatic emails or divert them to another email account. Advocate sending only essential emails within your organization and let people know that you prefer a phone call or office visit to long messages that take time to read. Consider too that each email you send usually equates to at least one response coming back to you, so be sure that your electronic message is important before hitting “Send.”

Thomas W. Hamilton more

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