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Tips for Managing Your Email Inbox

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Are you feeling overwhelmed by the slew of messages in your email inbox? Email is really "paper" in your inbox; if not dealt with properly, it's no different than having a stack of documents piled up on your desk. Just like you have to periodically set aside time to deal with the items that accumulate on your desk, you also need to be proactive in managing your email inbox.

Keeping Email Under Control

A few helpful tips for keeping email inbox clutter under control include:

  • Clean out your inbox each time you open it, deleting recent items that are obviously not needed and putting other items into folders as needed.

  • Create a folder system to organize emails that you need to keep. Use a folder structure that makes sense for your situation - you may need folders for departments, customers, prospective customers and/or specific individuals.

  • Create an "action" folder, which holds items that you still need to do something about.

  • Create a "reference" folder to hold messages that you want to keep indefinitely so that you'll be able to refer back to them as needed.

  • Set aside 30 minutes or so periodically to delete unnecessary messages. Depending on how many messages you receive and how proactive you are in purging and organizing messages as they arrive, you may need to do this weekly, or only monthly or quarterly.

  • Back up your email system regularly so that you don't end up losing important email messages that you may need at some point down the road.

  • Stay diligent with combatting SPAM messages. To this end, do not ever open attachments from unknown sources and immediately delete anything that looks suspicious.

  • Set up a separate email account with one of the free services (like Yahoo! or mail.AOL.com) to use when you want to download information from websites that require you to sign up for their email marketing lists. This will keep your primary inbox from getting cluttered with this type of communication, but you'll still be able to get to it.

Implement these tips a few at a time and soon you'll find that you're on your way to having a manageable inbox that doesn't overwhelm you every time you log in to check messages.

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