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Nov 2004

5 Tips to Get Control of Your Email

MSW Interactive Designs LLC
Serving Clients Nationwide

720 A Street NE : Washington DC, 20002
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By Sandy Waggett
Owner, MSW Interactive Designs LLC

Is your email inbox out of control? Are you flooded with SPAM? Email, while a wonderful business tool, can have serious hidden costs for small business in wasted time and energy.

MSW Interactive Designs LLC has nearly 40 email addresses that dump into our inbox every day. This amounts to nearly 2,500 emails per day, with about 70% of them being SPAM. Needless to say, email management requires a good portion of our time.

Interesting Email Statistics
Across the Internet

# of Emails Sent Each Day:
31 BILLION

Daily Emails Sent per Person: 174

Daily Porn Emails Sent: 2.5 BILLION

Daily Emails Sent Considered SPAM:
12.1 BILLION

Email Considered SPAM: 40% of all email

Source:
Spam Filter Review

Watch for our upcoming article on SPAM blockers! We may have found the "PERFECT" solution ... but we want to test for another few weeks!

While your email situation may not be quite that extreme, you can still gain control of the excessive amount of email you receive by applying some simple techniques.

With my 2,500 emails everyday, I had to learn how to quickly delete, sort, track, and reply to appropriate messages in my inbox. These 5 tips are gleaned strictly from my experience with our business inbox, but may be helpful to you too!

  1. Scan your messages by Subject line first.

    Most people scan messages by the "From" line in their email inbox, but I've learned it's much quicker to scan and delete first by the SUBJECT line. You can quickly see words like Viagra, Sex, or Bad Credit to immediately delete SPAM without opening or previewing the message. If the Subject Line leaves you unsure, then look at the From field before opening and reading.

    Quick Tip: In Outlook, you can delete multiple messages at once by holding down the CTRL key on your keyboard while you click once on each message. When you have multiple message selected, then press the DELETE key on your keyboard and they will all move to your Deleted Items folder at once.
  1. Create various folders in Outlook for messages you need to save and archive.
    I save almost every email sent to me by a client in an Outlook folder I created called Client Communication. This is good practice for most businesses. It allows you retrieve old messages if issues arise, but leaves your inbox uncluttered. I also save all the eLeads from our wedding portals in folders named Springs eLeads, Vegas eLeads, etc. This allows me to retrieve past eLeads if a client needs them, but keeps my Inbox clean. Once each month, I archive these email folders and save them to a CD. This keeps Outlook from getting bloated and slowing down my system (or crashing it).

    Creating folders, moving emails to those folders, and then archiving your Outlook folders on a regular schedule is very simple. You can get very precise instructions on how to do this using the Outlook Help system. It may take you 30 minutes to learn, but the time you will save (not to mention the importance of having past client email messages archived for future reference) may be invaluable in the long run!
  2. "Touch" legitimate messages once, maximum twice.
    After you've eliminated the junk messages and narrowed your inbox down to the messages you need to read, make it a goal to touch them once ... twice max. Open the message, read it, then DO something with it. This could mean many things:
    • REPLY to it, then delete it or file it
    • DELETE it immediately if it's junk you didn't catch in your subject or sender line scans.
    • FILE it as a message you need to keep. For example, a reply from a customer to one of your emails, or a business email receipt from an online purchase, or a business lead to follow up on.
    • FLAG it as a message you need to act on. In Outlook, this puts a little red flag next to the message in your inbox so you can identify it quickly. You might FLAG a message if you want to think about your reply before writing it, or if it's an inquiry you need to do some research on before replying, or if it's a business lead and you don't have time at the moment to write an appropriate reply.
    • PRINT it, if you keep a "to do" stack (like I do), then file it or delete it.

      NOTE: Many email management articles will tell you not to print emails because it defeats the purpose. I tend to disagree with this approach, especially if you get a lot of emails with taskings (like in my case, updating websites).

      If I didn't print those messages and put them in a "to do" stack, they would get lost in the flood of the 2500 emails that come in each day. Printing emails is essential in my email management approach. It may or may not be for you.
    • Empty your deleted items folders once per day, minimum once per week.
      I've had several clients call me because their Outlook starts crashing out of the blue. Most of the time the first question I ask is, "How long has it been since you emptied your Deleted Items folder. You may be surprised at the most common answer ... "Never!" It's essential to empty your deleted items folder on a regular basis because it will quickly become very large in size and hog all the memory in Outlook, causing it to behave strangely and ultimately crash.
    • Archive your mail folders and your sent mail folder at least once per month.
      For the same reason you empty your Deleted Items folder, you should Archive your other Outlook folders on a regular basis. This keeps the folders clean and helps Outlook run smoothly. You should archive your Sent Mail folder if you have reason to save messages you send. For my business, I save every message I send, just as I save most emails from clients. If you don't feel the need to save your sent messages using the archive feature, you can delete the items out of your Sent Mail folder. In either case, just be sure to do one or other on a regular basis.

    Practicing these five simple tips will help keep your email inbox under control and will save you lots of time when you receive dozens (if not hundreds) of emails every day!

    Written by Sandra Waggett, President, MSW Interactive Designs LLC. Founded in 1998, MSW Interactive Designs LLC offers complete online solutions for small business professionals: including website design, hosting and promotion, intranet and web-based training development. Learn more about MSW Interactive Designs LLC at http://www.MSWInteractiveDesigns.com or contact MSW at 877-211-5492.

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