Wednesday, April 9, 2008

In and out

I was recently telling a couple friends that I am a "virtual packrat." I am notorious for saving an e-mail for later, which becomes later, and then even later. One of my recent organizing projects was to get caught up on both of my e-mail accounts. I responded to overdue correspondence, deleted links to articles I knew I wouldn't read, and dealt with pending tasks. It felt so great, but like most things, I know I won't feel caught up for very long, especially if I return to my old ways!

I've mentioned this professional organizer in a couple previous posts, and want to share some of her great tips for managing your e-mail (specifically in Outlook--not sure how much these apply to other accounts).
  • Create folders. This takes so little time, but I had not been utilizing this great tool. I love being able to file an e-mail that needs to be saved, instead of trying to scan through my entire inbox!

  • Use flags. Another simple tip that I'd never tried--flagging messages as unread, follow-up, etc. She suggests creating different colored flags for different purposes.

  • I also didn't realize you can save messages as tasks or calendar items in Outlook. Though I'm not sure I would use this now that I'm staying home full-time, I wanted to pass on the tip to those who might find it helpful.

  • She also suggests entering data into your contact files as soon as you receive a business card or address change from a friend, instead of holding onto scraps of paper or e-mails containing that info.

Overall, she says, "Like paper, you can do one of four things with an e-mail: file it, refer it, read it, or take action on it."

So this is something I want to keep improving on, and I appreciated the tips above. What works for you in regards to keeping your e-mail inbox(es) "under control"? I'd love to hear your ideas!


Anonymous said...

This is a challenge for me, too! Even with several folders for saving and organizing messages, I still have 92 messages in my inbox. I don't use the "flag" system at home, but I do for my work e-mail -- and I still have way to many messages saved. I think for me, I need to be like the Nike commercial and "just do it!" I look forward to reading ideas from other people. Thanks for sharing -- love you, Mom

A, B & C said...

I've been doing that too... trying to announce my pregnancy to everyone. I'm down to just under 20 and feeling good.

The way I usually manage (when I'm not trying to get my house and life in order) is to get myself to a good level and then send out as many emails as I receive. If I don't have time that very same day, I do it within 48 hours. And I always start with my oldest emails first, unless something pressing comes in.

Hope this helps!

Katie said...

I have *several* folders in my Inbox - family, friends, church, and different organizations for both my husband and I. I try to sort my inbox regularly to either discard the unnecessary emails or keep the ones I want in the correct folder. I think it's time to do some spring cleaning in those folders though!

MyHeartIsAlwaysHome said...

What a great feeling to have that task done! That is something I need to work on. I still have e-mail with pictures from Thanksgiving!

Liisa said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I have had tons of emails, articles, devotionals etc. in my inbox that I wanted to save to read agin or planned to share at some point and they were cluttering it up which was a source of frustration for my hubby. I have just created a folder (I didn't know you could do that - I know I am probably the only one!) so now he will be most pleased to have the inbox all cleared out!

Thanks again!

Jamie said...

I too have problems with this but using gmail has helped me. You can just archive any email so you don't really have to "delete" it but it is out of your inbox! Other than that though I have no tips - I often have to just make myself go through every single email and deal with each one!

Amy said...

Email is hard for me. I am good about my Yahoo account, but my Gmail account is outragous. I have 8K messages in there right now. That is NOT an exagerration. I just have a hard time deleting stuff.

Good thing it isn't on paper :)

GREAT topic!

Steve & Molly said...

I check my e-mail once a day on their website. There, I block any e-mail addresses such as junkmail, etc., and delete any unwanted items. That way, those items never even make it to my inbox. It has helped me keep my inbox somewhat under control. Now, I just need to get at the ones that DO make it to the inbox! :)

Simply Heart And Home said...

A virtual pack rat here too. I tend to leave my inbox VERY full. I did just clean it out and it certainly felt good! :)



Anonymous said...

Hi Carrie:

I too, of course, am guilty of saving too many e-mails. I think I had about 280 in my inbox when I was at Joanie's and of course, she "got onto me". So I have recently cleaned it out. I do keep many in folders, though. (It pays, too, as I just had to refer to one tonight from back in January.)

Good luck with keeping yours cleaned out too!

Love you, Grandma

thehomespunheart said...

When I check my e-mail, I delete any non-keepers right off. Then, I only keep in my inbox what still needs dealt with. When it gets over one page (of inbox messages you can see) I go through and deal with them or start responding to some of them. I delete those right of the bat.

I do keep a couple of folders for ones I want to keep, but those aren't many. I'm an e-mail deleter!

Hope you figure out something that works for you!

gail said...

a virtual pack rat! i love that. that is so me too. and no, i'm not going to tell you how many save messages i have in my email acct(s). yes, i have more that one or two .... (blushing)

i use a couple of those tips but will have to try the others.