Business email is both a blessing and a curse. At its best, email can save time, create a hard copy history, and keep us connected. Unfortunately, it can also crush productivity, eat up valuable hard drive real estate, and open the door to malicious software and viruses.
As tempting as it is to simply ignore the problems created by a bulging email inbox, adopting this strategy will catch up with you eventually. So what’s the solution? Getting into the habit of doing regular email inbox maintenance. Whether that’s weekly or monthly will depend on how many emails you get and what works best for you.
Here are three key elements that should be part of any business email management strategy:
- Delete Email and Empty the Trash:
Deleting emails that don’t require action or are not important to keep on file is vital.
Keep in mind that most of the email you have you don’t even need. SaneBox estimates that less than 40% of emails received are important or relevant. Your best bet is to delete them as soon as you look them over or flag them for deletion later. Remember that deleting an email doesn’t make it go away. To regain space, you also need to empty the trash can.
Each email you save takes up a portion of server space. While an individual email may be very small, the total can add up quickly. If you are working in an enterprise environment you may have limits on the amount of email you can store in your personal email. Deleting emails you no longer need will help you avoid hitting those limits.
Be sure to include spam in your clean up strategy. Not only do these messages take up space but they may include malicious software that is just waiting to be activated. Delete them often and be sure to clear them out of the trash.
Establishing a system of folders can help you find important emails when you need them. For some people, a system organized by sender works best. For others creating folders by the name of a certain project makes more sense. There is no right or wrong way, just what works best for you. The online publication, The Muse, offers some great tips for staying organized. While you’re at it, unsubscribe to any email lists that you don’t read regularly.
- Take Full Advantage of Tools and Features:
Most email systems can allow you to set up rules or filters. With these tools, you can automate the process of organizing your emails before you even see them. Sending emails to folders or to the trash automatically can help you keep your inbox under control. ComputerHope offers good advice on how to use rules and filters to keep your inbox organized.
While facing the task of cleaning up your email can be intimidating, once you get in the habit of keeping an inbox that is lean and clean, you’ll wonder why you waited so long. You’ll finally be able to find what you need when you need it, free up valuable hard drive space, and reduce the chance of being hit by a virus.
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