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Blog: Technology As An Organizing Tool
Organize Your Email - Part 1

When we think of clutter, we tend to think of piles of paper or other physical objects that are taking up unnecessary space, but there's another kind of clutter that plagues nearly everyone who has an email account email clutter. Is there any other way to describe it, when there are hundreds or even thousands of messages sitting in your inbox that you've already read?

Perhaps you are thinking, "but I need to keep that because..."

a)    I haven't responded to it yet

If it's a quick reply you can type and send in two minutes or less, just do it! If your email is set to quote the original message when you send a reply, you can now delete it, as the text will be included in your outgoing message.

If it is going to take longer, figure out when you will do it. Maybe you need to block an hour or two to clear up those messages. Or maybe some of them are more involved, and you need to set aside time just to deal with those. The important thing is to make sure you do it! If you wait too long, those messages will just get buried further down in your inbox until it's too late.

If the message isn't important enough to allot time to writing a reply, maybe you should just delete it. If that seems too drastic, file it in an appropriate folder (more on that later).

b)    I need to act on it

Once again, if you do it in two minutes or less, just do it! Otherwise, add it to your To Do List and file it in an appropriate folder. When I say "appropriate," I mean appropriate to your needs. Put all related messages together in their own folder, the way you would do (hopefully) with your paper documents. You may have a folder for each client, for each project, or some other grouping that works for you. If you don't know how to set up folders in your email program, refer to the Help screen, ask someone, or take a course. You'll easily make up for the time you take to do this, because you'll no longer waste time hunting for those messages when you need them, or missing deadlines because you forgot about something.

c)    There's information in it that I will need to refer to later

This is a perfectly valid reason for keeping something, but it doesn't belong in your inbox! This is the electronic equivalent of keeping all your important papers piled up in your in tray on your desk. Set up folders as described above and move the messages to the appropriate one.

d)    It's from a special person and I want to keep it for personal reasons

That's really sweet, but read item (c) above for my comments.

Come back next week when I'll share some tips on dealing with all those messages in your inbox that you haven't read yet!

posted on: 3/20/2008 8:30:00 AM by Janet Barclay
category: Business

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Technology As An Organizing Tool

by Janet Barclay

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Janet Barclay is a Master Virtual Assistant and the founder of Organized Assistant. Specializing in supporting entrepreneurs in the Organizing and Career Services industries, Organized Assistant provides top-notch Internet marketing services to business owners of all shapes and sizes.

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