Organise Email Better - Digital Literacy Dover

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Organise Email Better

I think it's fair to say, that despite the proliferation of digital tools in the past decade or three since this whole digital and information revolution started, other than the web browser, the humble email remains resolute, and love it or loathe it, remains absolutely essential. I've written before about the mistaken hype around change in tech, but I'll say it again; change is not as fast in tech as people often assert, a fact that can be underscored by the persistence of email. So if you've been waiting for this form of electronic communication to become obsolete, I'm afraid you'll be waiting a long time—it's not going anywhere soon, so you'd better develop some effective strategies for managing it effectively.

Now before you complain about your overloaded inbox, that's not the fault of email, that's the fact of living and working in a large, busy, complex organisation—I still remember the days before email, when we used 'pigeon holes' in staff rooms, and there were plenty of those that were stuffed to overflowing then as well. I'd venture so far as to say, it's a safe bet, those people who struggled to manage then, will struggle with email now—fortunately email has a few features to help that pigeon holes didn't/don't.

Number 1. DELETE NOTHING (unless it's abusive). There is plenty of space in your GMail inbox, so chillax, let that email slumber sweetly within your nice and comfy inbox. It's OK. You have better things to do with your time.

Number 2. Read them all, even if it's but a glance, it only takes a click, just open one at the start (or end), and keep clicking through until you get to the end (or the beginning). You might even find this easier to do on your phone/tablet than in your browser...

Number 3: Instead of leaving messages unread, STAR (or Flag in Mail) emails you have read, but need to follow up on, then unstar (Is that a word? It is now) them when you're finished. Just click on the star icon. If you find yourself loving this option as much as I do, you might be interested in taking it further with different kinds of stars, to indicate the kind of email it is—urgent? useful info? question? See this post if you'd like to know more...

Number 4: Use the Starred option in the menu to easily view just the Emails you need to deal with.

Number 5: Don't waste time making/organising labels/folders, just rely on search, after all this is GMail and that is what Google do best. Putting to:name and from:name are really handy search tips, but if an email is proving really hard to locate just pop open the extra search options and you'll find it in no time—works searching Google Drive too!

Number 6: Try a tabbed inbox, all emails to groups (not directly to you) go to a separate tab, and emails to social platforms like Google groups get routed to a separate tab.

Number 7: Block Spam, not interested in those emails? Well stop them from continually clogging up your inbox by either unsubscribing (usually a link hidden at the bottom of the email) or hit the 'Report Spam' button, that tells GMail to delete and to delete any others coming from that sender.

Number 8: Last but not least, try Boomerang—what? Boomerang is a useful tool with a strange name that informs you if an email you sent has not been replied to after a certain period of time that you designate. It also allows you to time when emails you send are actually delivered.

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