After receiving just over 2400 e-mails in one
12-hour period, I decided enough was enough. I began unsubscribing to newsletters, as a
first step. That alone made a good-sized dent in my e-mail problems. Yet, I still get
several hundred e-mails a day. Here, I will share with you how I handle those e-mails
without losing enormous amounts of time.
The first thing you need is a good e-mail
program. Years ago, I used Microsofts Outlook Express, which is free. I bought a copy of Eudora
Pro, and found it too hard to use. I couldnt see where I was, and the whole
interface just made me dizzy. Today, I am very happy with Outlook. In addition
to its e-mail features, it has many collaboration features and excellent
scheduling tools. If you're in a corporate environment, this is probably what
AOL and some other services have
their proprietary e-mail programs, but these are slow and underfeatured. Go with Outlook
Express (or Outlook) if you want to be able to handle lots of e-mails without industrial
doses of Valium.
As you retrieve e-mail, look for patterns in spam (unwanted e-mail). You can set up
"rules" that will delete incoming e-mail where certain keywords appear in the
subject line, the "from" area, or the body. And you have total flexibility in
specifying what words to look for where. You can do other things than delete, too, so take
a look at the options and use what works best for you.
Once you have your mail, sort by subject. You can delete known spam here, very fast.
Then, delete the e-mails that look fishy: those with no subject lines, those with
anonymous senders, and those with attachments you are not expecting to receive. Unexpected
attachments are often hostile, so dont even open them. If someone cant give
you the courtesy of asking you first, you are not obliged to read what they send.
People send me jokes, and I recycle the best of them into my own joke list. When jokes
come in, I shuffle them to my "delay read" folder. I might have done better to
call it "incoming jokes." Use names that make sense, if you start retaining
If you are a business, and you get many of the same questions over and over, there are
ways to save time. One way is to write an article like this one, and put it on your
Website (BTW, feel free to copy this article to your Website, if you hyperlink to http://www.mindconnection.com when doing so.
Otherwise, its a copyright violation and I may visit you in the night and cut your
fingers off. Or at least send you an e-mail asking for you to be honest.)
Another way is to make a FAQ page. I personally dont like FAQ pages, just because
of the way people do them. Keep the needs of the visitor in mind if you design a FAQ
pagedont just throw a bunch of disorganized material on a page and expect
people to find the answer they want. If you can present information clearly, then use a
FAQ. Writing an article, too, wont hurt.
You can use your e-mail, instead of a Webpage, though. Heres how. First, create a
mail folder called "0FAQ." Notice the zero. This puts the FAQ folder at the top
of your folder list, so you dont have to scroll down. Write some standard replies
and save them in this folder. These replies are now templates. You can open them, and copy
and paste. Just make sure the subject line in your template makes it easy to identify the
To improve on this system, type out your standard reply. Then, using your e-mails
FILE drop down menu, save that e-mail as a fileoutside your e-mail system. Use a
folder name that is easy to locate and retrieve. Saving this way, you can give each file a
name that makes it easy to find. You can set up your e-mail rules to retrieve and use this
file, if you want to take the time to explore just a little.
Housekeeping is critical. At every e-mail session, clean out that In-box, or at least
get rid of the oldest entries in there. Once a week, clean out your e-mail. Thats
rightdelete stuff. Make a 20-minute appointment and go to it. Start with the
"Sent" folder. The larger your e-mail file system, the longer it takes your
e-mail to load and do other things.
E-mail etiquette, or "netiquette." Dont be part of the problem. Here
are some courtesies:
- Give an accurate subject line.
- Dont send big files without first getting permission.
- Dont copy everybody and his brother on a message.
- Dont pass along chain letters, virus warnings, or other junk.
- Always include the original message when replying.
- When forwarding a joke, copy and paste so you dont get all the carrots on the
- When replying to multiple recipients, use the blind function to protect their privacy.