Tips for Surviving the Email Deluge in 2013

    There is no question that the mundane email service has attained a pivotal point in businesses around the world. This is especially true for SMBs, which may lack advanced CRM or other advanced collaboration tools that large enterprises have access to.

    However, the sheer volume of email messages means that emails can be maddening to deal with, and can even suck up an undesirable portion of your work day. To help you cope better on this front, below are some suggestions that you may want to implement in the year ahead.

    Use a spam filter

    The use of a spam filter is definitely necessary these days. While spam emails are generally trivial to spot, they consume previous seconds and interrupt our workflow. Indeed, it has been suggested that high volumes of incoming spam serve to reduce our alertness to that phishing scam that succeeds in tricking us.

    Because I don’t have an IT department that may frown on me doing so, I pipe my emails through Google’s Gmail service. One of my reasons for doing so is to tap into its excellent spam filter, which catches anything between 20 to more than a 100 spam messages per day. There are many business solutions around, which you can read about here.

    Search, don’t sort

    Getting a headache trying to decide which nested folder to squirrel a particular email away into? Instead of wasting precious time and energy sorting through the many dozens of email messages you receive every single day — and still have that crucial email go “missing” because you placed it into the wrong sub-sub-sub-folder by mistake — why not consider relying on the search functionality to find that email you need instead?

    Zero sorting may be a tad extreme for some though; a good alternative would be to file into a very small number of folders. Personally, I adopt a simple regime of sorting emails based on a couple loose categories such as “Work” and “Personal.” Major projects sometimes get their old folders for convenience, but that’s rare and they are always dumped back into “Work” at their conclusion.

    File, don’t delete

    Another problem that you may face is email messages that are not necessarily spam, but which you doubt you will ever want to access again. Instead of dithering over to delete them permanently and worrying over the off-chance of actually requiring the information, why not sort it into a folder dedicated for them?

    To deal with the many newsletters, Google Alerts and pitches that I receive every day, I have a folder called “News” where I dump all email messages that I don’t consider important enough for long-term archival. If I’m not sure, I dump it there anyway with the knowledge that it’ll still be there if I ever change my mind. This folder never gets archived, and from time to time will get the last few months of messages deleted.

    Manage it on the go

    Finally, what better way to use BYOD to your advantage than by accessing your emails from a mobile device? One advantage is that it allows you to perform some basic sorting as highlighted above while on your daily commute or waiting to board the plane.

    Do you have any additional email management tips to add? Do feel free to chip in with a comment below.

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