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Taming E-Mail
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By John Beckett
 
A while ago I decided that it was time to re-think the way I handle e-mail. I reply to e-mail and usually keep up, but I was frustrated that I couldn't always remember e-mails I'd read on my phone but wanted to take some time responding to from my computer. My inbox was pretty big and it was annoying to scroll through it. The good news is that there are ways to deal with e-mail overload.
 
Here's a few things I discovered while I worked on my e-mail situation.
 
First, I unsubscribed from most e-mail lists by hitting the unsubscribe link at the bottom of messages. After I'd done this for a few weeks, I received a lot less e-mail.
 
My e-mail box still was messy though, so I looked around online for advice and found inboxzero.com. This site offers a quick education in processing your e-mail. For me this means that when I get a new e-mail, I delete it right away if it has no further value, or forward it along if someone else needs to handle it. If I need to keep it, I sort it into one of three folders. I use "Hot" for things I want to deal with soon, "Pending" for things I want to come back to after someone responds, and "Archive" for things I want to keep for future reference. The idea is that it needs to be an easy decision about what needs to happen with every inbound message. For this reason, I don't worry about a complicated archive structure, I just hit the search box. 
 
This new system works for me. It keeps the most important things most visible, and fits my need to use e-mail on both my phone and computer.
 
Most of us spend a lot of time dealing with e-mail, so it's well worth the effort to spend a little time improving the way we use it.
 
John Beckett is director for the Office of Global Software and Internet for the General Conference