Email management: A few tips

All of us drown on a daily basis in our emails. The sheer number of emails that an average joe like me receives is unbelievable. I am a conservative user of email. I am not a celebrity or anything like that. And yet I receive emails in the hundreds everyday. Let us see how we can manage this mess of messages better.

There are many of us who believe that email volume is an indicator of status. Believe me, if that is so, then the society will go upside down. Now to the problem on hand. Why do we get so many emails? Let us see that first.

All of us use internet services for very many things in life and when we sign up for these services, we just fill in our email id, confirm it by clicking an activation link and then forget it. What we do not see is that the default notification settings for many services are verbose and via email. So as soon as we start using the service, the mail flood begins and then for a while it is fun, then it starts irking you. If we had initially spent some time and checked the notification settings, we could have set digest mode which tells the services not to mail us more than once a day and avoided the mess. Next time, look around and spend that initial effort, you will not regret it.

If you have your own domain name, then email management gets a whole load simpler. With your own domain, you can set up a “catch-all” entry. In simple words, this is an email id where email is delivered when it is addressed to an id that does not exist in your domain. For example, my domain is shakthidharan.com and my catch-all is shakthi@shakthidharan.com what this means is, all email that is sent to invalid or non-existent userids in my domain are delivered to shakthi@shakthidharan.com

How does this help? Creatively used, this can solve many issues.When I signup to use any service I use thatservice@shakthidharan.com as the mail id, like twitter@shakthidharan.com facebook@shakthidharan.com linkedin@shakthidharan.com . Now these ids do not exist on my domain. But the catch-all routes them to my personal id as explained above. And in my personal id, I have filters that file emails to folders based on the To: field. So twitter email goes to the twitter folder, facebook to facebook folder and so on. This way, my inbox is clean and mail is presorted when I open the mailbox. I know which services are higher priority and which folders to process faster. That helps me to save a lot of time.

Even if you do not have your own domain, you can use a modified version of the filter mentioned above to file mail properly. Instead of filtering on To:, filter on From: and you can do the same thing.

My logic is that filing and prioritizing take more time that actual processing of mails, so this helps me save a lot of time. There is also one golden rule, keep the inbox and th sent box empty at the end of the day. File very incoming and sent mail to relevant folders. This makes searching and follow up very easy and efficient.

Hope that helped

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4 comments on “Email management: A few tips

  1. To tell you the truth I use e-mail very little anymore. My e-mail box gets a fair number of messages that are not quite spam, from websites, such as notifications of ebooks I’ve bought from Amazon. But anyone who actually wants to talk to me would know to send me a message on Facebook.

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