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5 email strategies will help streamline your inbox management

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Friday, May 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

On a given day, an estimated 144 billion email messages are sent and received around the world. This doesn't even include spam.

Experts say up to a quarter of a person's work week is spent dealing with email. To lighten your load, here are five email tricks to shave serious time off your inbox management.

• Send less (and better) email

Email follows one law you've probably heard before: You get what you give. If you're sending out dozens of messages, you're going to receive that many back and more.

Instead, look for other ways to communicate. If a quick text, call or IM can get your message across faster, use that instead. If you're dealing with a co-worker, taking a trip to their office might be easier and more productive.

With the email you can't avoid sending out, make it clear and concise. Anticipate questions and answer them before they're asked. Try to keep it as short as possible.

If you're frequently sending the same message to multiple people, save time with a template you can copy and paste. These can be customized as you go so they don't look as much like form letters.

Filter and automate

Nearly every email program or service lets you set up some form of automated message filtering. This can be as simple as setting up folders to separate important mail from the clutter. Advanced systems can color code and label email for you based on sender and other rules.

Start by routing messages from important contacts to a folder labeled “Urgent” or something similar. Create a “Read later” folder for routine or subscription messages. You can create as many subfolders and folders as you need, so set up a system that works best for you.

Use temporary email

I'm sure at some point you've made the mistake of giving out your real email address online. Shortly afterward, a flood of email you don't care about appears in your inbox.

In most cases, you just needed to give it to a site so you can receive a confirmation email proving you are who you say you are. For those situations, it's better to use a temporary email account.

Some people begin a second email address. That's the one they give out to new or questionable sites. Their main email is reserved for friends, family and reputable sites. You should also keep business and personal email accounts separate.

When to use BCC

There are many ways to send email to multiple people. Usually, people simply use “To:” or “CC:” and fill in all the email addresses. For most mass mailings, however, “BCC:” is a better option.

Using it means recipients see only their own email address. That's a plus when they might not know other people on the list, or your email might be forwarded to strangers. You don't want a spammer getting their hands on a large list of your friends' names and addresses.

• Turn off notifications

One of the biggest email annoyances is notifications. These come from Facebook, Twitter and other social sites.

You might get an email every time someone interacts with your profile.

Go into your settings on each site to turn off notifications.

Email Kim Komando at techcomments@usatoday.com.

 

 
 


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