Managing your inbox

Managing your Inbox

If you’re like most people, it’s easy to find yourself buried under a deluge of e-mails. Spam, memos, newsletters, subscriptions… sometimes it’s hard to find the e-mails you want amongst the “noise.” These simple tips will help you manage the flood of data that is your inbox.

1) Use folders. Pretty much every major e-mail client (and all webmail service) provide folders. Use them. Break up your inbox by project, month, topic — the categories can be arbitrary, but the use of categorization and hierarchal organization can help you organize the messages in your inbox.

2) Stay on top of your incoming mail. Even if you can’t act on something right away, read every message that comes in, in case it contains some unexpected, yet useful piece of information.

3) Reply to things as they arrive. It may be convenient to let an e-mail languish in your inbox until you can conveniently respond — but get in the habit of replying to messages as soon as you get them. Not only will it show the other person that you’ve read their message, but it will also prevent you from building up a giant backlog of unanswered e-mails.

4) Use the subject line. It sounds simple, but for some reason a large number of e-mail users do not make use of the subject field when sending mail. It may seem easier not to bother with writing a subject line… easier, that is, until you find your inbox stuffed with 8,000 messages, each entitled “(no subject)”. It’s at that point that you wished you had used the subject field more frequently. Avoid the headaches, and start giving your e-mails a subject.

5) Don’t sign up for stuff. Or more correctly, don’t sign up for stuff using your primary e-mail address. Your primary e-mail address (the one you use to correspond with the greatest number of business and personal contacts) should be used for important e-mails. Create a second e-mail address with a free provider (such as a Yahoo, Google, or Hotmail account), and use that e-mail address for freebies, website signups, etc — the sort of signup that’s likely to put your e-mail address on the lists of the various mortage, diploma, and “male enhancement” vendors. By seperating your e-mail addresses in this manner, you can ensure that your primary e-mail address won’t get swamped with useless, unsolicited e-mail.

Managing your inbox will always be a challenge, especially now that we live in a world of constant, high-volume communication. With these tips and a little work, you too can have a clutter-free, easy to navigate inbox.

Get tips, tricks, and articles for young professionals from the AAYP.

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