Thursday, July 9, 2015

Start The Day With An Organized Inbox

I don't know about all of you, but I work best when things are organized. As genealogists, this is important if we hold out any hope of ever getting anything done. But I think most of us would say that one of the least organized parts of our digital lives is our email inbox. And as our lives become more and more digital - as we bank, shop, and research online - our inbox becomes the repository for a lot of junk. Everyone has to figure out ways to do things that best suit them and their personal style, but I have developed a system that works for me - and maybe all, or parts, of this will work for you as well. It takes me less than 10 minutes each morning (I do this while enjoying my first cup of coffee), and when I am done, my spam box is empty, my trash is empty, all the emails that require my attention are replied to, filed, or allocated to a location where I will deal with them later. My rule - never more than 10 emails in my inbox.

It all starts with figuring out what to do with all those subscription emails - you know, the ones we get from all those places we bank, shop or visit that required us to submit an email to gain access. We are then cursed with a flood of emails from these places that, for the most part, we don't need or want. Many email services, such as Gmail, offer a tab set-up for sorting your mail. When you sign in, all your emails are organized into groups.  If you use Gmail, this is worth looking into - just Google "how to configure your gmail (or Yahoo, AOL, etc.) inbox" and there are hundreds of articles and videos showing you how to do this. I have chosen, instead, to use a program called Unrollme to do the work for me.  If you missed my article about this program in The Seabrooker, click here to find out how it works.  There is also a video on the Unrollme website. By using this program, my email box only contains emails that require my attention or action, which is usually less than a dozen on any given day.  I also use Gmail's file feature and have created "file folders" into which I can move my emails to make them easy to find if and when I need them in the future.

So here is what I do (after pouring that cup of coffee):
  1. Open email and scan through those that have arrived since yesterday
  2. Immediately delete any that should be in the trash
  3. Open and read each email that requires my attention.  I then do one of the following:
    1. Delete
    2. Reply
    3. Forward (if that is appropriate)
    4. File in the appropriate folder for future reference
    5. Move to my "deal with later" folder. This can be a folder in your email program, or a folder in Evernote or a todo list - whatever works for you.  But it should be a repository that allows you to "tickle" it with a date so it will pop back up to remind you to take care of it at some point in the future.  If you don't take care of it on the appointed date, tickle it for a different date.  Once it is taken care of, delete it, or, if you want to keep it for future reference, file it in it's appropriate folder.
  4. Open my "Unrollme" folder in Gmail, deal with each email (read, forward, delete or file) and leave that folder empty
  5. Quickly scan through and delete all "spam" (and leave that folder empty)
  6. Empty the trash.  Since I empty this every day there usually aren't that many items to be thrown away.  If you have dealt appropriately with all your emails up to this point, everything in this folder should be, well ... trash. Before I hit the "delete forever" button, I quickly scan through them to make sure nothing important snuck in there. 
When I am done, all the email in my inbox has been dealt with and my inbox is nearly empty, my spam, unrollme, and trash folders are empty and all items that need attention in the future are "tickled".

Tools To Help You Organize Your Email


-- submitted by Denise Doyon

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