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6 Secrets to Preventing Email Overload
I wonder now who was the genius who said email would make our lives easier? Don't you want to strangle this person on some days??
I've found email to be both a blessing and a curse. I love the immediacy of the communication, but hate all of the spam and viruses that I have to be vigilant about.
So, here's 6 quick tips that I use to help me better manage my email:
1. The rule of handling email is the same as handling paper correspondence. Only handle it once. When you've read it, decide at that point to delete it, answer it, or file it for later action. Don't let you email inbox grow to 1000 or more messages--that becomes incredibly overwhelming and drains too much energy from you every day. I receive roughly about 600 pieces of email a day, so if I didn't do something to manage it properly, I'd be drowning in email.
2. Control your urge to check your email all of the time. I have my email program set to check email every 4 hours, which is twice a day for my workday, rather than having the program check it automatically during the day. I know that many of my clients will procrastinate on what they need to do by deciding to read their email rather than to do the pressing items on their to do lists. Limiting your ability to read your email will result in getting productivity--I guarantee it!
3. Set up filters (in Eudora) or rules (in Outlook) to automatically shuffle email into appropriate folders. I have numerous mailboxes set up in Eudora to house all of the posts of the discussion lists I belong to or newsletters I receive or daily correspondence that I get from clients. In many cases, I have sub-mailboxes set up under my primary mailboxes to further categorize the email that I receive. I've set these mailboxes up over time, and in many cases at the point where the email arrives in my inbox. It may take you 30 or so days to set up filters or rules for your email, but the effort will be very worthwhile. Now, when I check email, the mailboxes containing new mail appear across the bottom of my screen, so I can quickly eyeball them and figure out what on which emails immediate action is needed.
4. Be sure that your virus system, firewall system, junk mail systems are up-to-date. I use Norton for viruses and have it connected to my email system so that all incoming and outgoing messages are scanned for viruses. Norton prompts me to update it regularly. ZoneAlarm, my firewall system, www.zonealarm.com is up and running whenever I'm online to protect me from any type of intrusive attacks. Eudora has a built-in junk email detector system that works relatively well, but I'd prefer that most of my junkmail never even reach my email program. Consequently, I use SpamArrest, www.spamarrest.com, which runs $34.95/year. All of my email goes through SpamArrest before it's downloaded into Eudora, and I can approve or block certain senders as I see fit. I log in at the beginning of the day and the end of the day to see if something was labeled as spam and rescue it, and then proceed to delete all the spam. Of the 600 emails a day I receive, I would estimate that at least 400/day are due to spam. Thanks goodness for SpamArrest!
5. If you're receiving emails via your domain name, like firstname.lastname@example.org, and the email address is set up as a POP3 account, log into your web hosting account and be sure that you're set up only to receive emails at designated email addresses. Many times spammers will send emails out to postmaster@ or webmaster@ or info@, as these are pretty common email address aliases. If your hosting email account has an address that is set up to receive all the email to the bogus aliases (unrouted email) , you'll be getting lots of spam. Instead, log in to your hosting account and set your default email address to :blackhole: or to :fail: No Such User Here so that you'll only get the email at the addresses you've created.
6. Never put your email address on your website. Spammers buy robot or spider programs that scour websites for unecoded email addresses to add to their spam database. You can use a contact form where a visitor will have to input information and send the form data to you, or you can use an email address encoder program. I like to maintain the ability for my visitors to email me if they wish, so I use a program called Natata Anit-Spam Encoder, http://natata.hn3.net/antispam_encoder.htm. I encode all the email addresses on my websites and those of clients. The program is free of charge.
You can tame the email beast, but it'll take a little effort and energy and due diligence to make it all work. Implement these steps, and you'll stop dreading receiving email.
Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter
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