June 10, 2009
The 7 habits of highly effective e-mailers
I don't know about you, but I always feel more in control of my life when my inbox is down to a manageable 50 to 100 e-mails.
Sadly, my inbox has been holding steady at 350 messages for several months now. That's why I was happy to find Marci Alboher's recent post about keeping an empty inbox on her Yahoo! career management blog.
Among Alboher's inbox tips (all of which you can read here):
1. Learn to love folders. Why scroll if you don't have to? Instead, neatly tuck everything away by category ("job hunt," "unemployment benefits," and so on).
2. Schedule time to go through folders you haven't dealt with. I have a "Write Back to These People" folder that's been languishing for months. I now know what I'll be doing this Friday afternoon.
3. Stop subscribing to newsletters you don't read. Keep up with your favorite blogs and Web sites through Twitter or RSS feed.
4. Stop getting social network updates by e-mail. Check the actual site to see whether anyone's messaged you.
To Alboher's suggestions above, I'd like to add a few more that have helped me:
5. Forget about getting in the last word. No need to punctuate every e-mail exchange with "No, really, thank you -- it was my pleasure!" Imagine all the e-mail you'd avoid if you ended those overly courteous conversations five messages sooner.
6. Create rules to automatically file specific messages. I do this in both Gmail and Outlook. No longer is my day interrupted by countless press releases and Google alerts. Now they're all stored in nice, neat folders where I can read them when time allows.
7. Color-code your projects. So much easier to track and find at a glance. Depending on the mail program you use, you may even be able to set a rule to automatically color-code specific messages as they arrive. (Idea courtesy of Raised Eyebrow, a Web design studio in Vancouver, BC.)
How about you? How do you keep on top of your inbox, or did you give up hope long ago?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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