Friday, May 12, 2006

Manage your e-mail

I get a lot of e-mail. Some of it is junk mail. How best can I manage all the e-mails I get?

Workplace organization used to mean finding a file or trash can for that avalanche of paper on your desktop. Now it means finding a file or trash can for that avalanche of e-mail on your laptop.

You should already have a filter for junk e-mail. Here are three quick steps toward managing the rest of the e-mail overload:

1. Create a "save" folder. This is where you put the e-mail that you may need and don't want to trash just yet. You can develop a more sophisticated system of folders with labels like "Business contacts" or "Corporate memos" later. But a save file is a good way to begin.

2. Establish e-mail rules. Organizing e-mail is never finished because it just keeps coming. So set rules about when to read it, respond to it, trash it or file it. Pick an hour on Friday afternoon to spend filing or trashing e-mail. Pick a half-hour in the morning responding to less urgent e-mail.

3. Cut the extraneous e-mail. Let people know upfront that you don't want to receive jokes, thoughts-of-the-day or chain e-mail. It only creates more work for you.

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