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How To Deal With Email

By: Robert S.

Deal with Email

Are you overloaded with email? Is it stressful for you to even look at your inbox? Does it take you ages to send a reply? You're not alone in your struggle: according to BBC News, one-third of all workers are suffering from 'email stress'.

Luckily, you can take action to avoid being stressed over text on a screen. These six steps will make your email more manageable.

Step 1: Sort new messages

In your email client, create new folders (sometimes called labels) on the left, underneath your inbox. Most email and webmail clients (including Outlook, Gmail and Lotus) will automatically sort your folders alphabetically, so you'll want to start the names of the folders with a number. If you want to make more than 10 folders, use 01, 02, etc. Make your first folder the folder with the highest priority, call it '01 - To Do' or something similar. The second folder could then be called '02 - Pending' and the third could be '03 - Read only'. You can also create folders for specific purposes, for instance 'Reunion 2009' or 'Matthew's Birthday'.

(To create a folder in Outlook, right-click on Inbox on the left, then click on 'Create New Folder'.)

Step 2: Clean out your inbox

Delete email that won't be relevant anymore. Archive email (move it to the correct folder) that could still be relevant in the future. If there's email that is not relevant for you but for someone else, forward it to that person and archive it. Make your inbox completely empty.

Step 3: Decide immediately

Don't let new email linger in your inbox. Whenever you receive a new mail, decide immediately what you want to do with it: delete it, archive it to the right folder or forward it to the right person.

Step 4: Make it a routine

Try to prevent lagging behind with cleaning your inbox. Make it a daily routine, for instance something you do every morning. Don't let email pile up.

Step 5: Maintain your folders

After a while, some folders won't be relevant anymore. Other folders will grow so big, they'll need to be split up. If there are new activities in your life, make new folders for them.

Step 6: Be aware of email pitfalls

Invest in a good spam filter: you don't want to waste any time deleting (or worse; reading) spam. Using the phone to communicate with someone now and then helps you to avoid having to write emails all day. And if you do write an email, be careful and to-the-point, cause otherwise you risk that the other party won't have enough information: this results in emails being sent back and forth.

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