Email for all its flaws is still the number one way of communicating online. Yet still users have no idea how to manage it, use it and bend it to their will. Lately, the lack of email intelligence among users has raised my ire. So much so that I’ve decided users need to either learn to master their email, in at very least a basic way, or quit complaining about it.
Email platforms are plentiful, but a few stand out from the crowd.
Businesses use Exchange and by some accounts need to. However, instead of wasting time and resources on managing an Exchange server, small businesses should move towards a more simpler approach through Google Apps or Office 365. There is simply no need for an Exchange environment in an office size of under 10 users. With today’s full featured cloud options, Exchange can easily be replaced in a small office environment.
If your company uses proprietary software that relies on Exchange, then find a more flexible alternative. You’ll find that your business becomes less reliant on specialized software and it sends a message to the software company that they need to produce more flexible options or join the dinosaurs.
Gmail is easily the most robust web based email solution available, but these same principles apply to other top email providers.
- Use filters! For the love of all holy email, if you want to get out from under that pile of email, then use filters. Start NOW!
- Gmail has a convenient priority label to manage urgent and important messages you expect to receive. However, with a quick filter setup, priority labels can be used with other services as well.
- Star messages with the dozen or so star options to organize your priorities. After some time you’ll become accustomed to using them and even organize them around your workflow.
- For gmail specifically, users can even create a ‘Snooze‘ function to delay messages from reaching their inbox. You can set your own up by following this tutorial.
While I’m not a fan of Outlook, it is the predominant email program. It too has filtering capabilities and if you don’t bother to use them or take time to understand how they work, then you deserve all the spam and missed emails you get.
Learn what you’re doing and continue to revise to suit your needs. Stop complaining that it’s not working the way you “want” it to. You need to teach Outlook how to handle your messages. Remember, Outlook is software not a mind-reading artificial intelligence.
For the last time – spam cannot be blocked 100% by any software or service, period. Can you manage it? Yes, but results will never be foolproof and will take time to be fully applied.
Also keep in mind that sending rapid, repeated emails to recipients can cause your own outgoing email to be flagged as potential spam on the recipient’s end. By definition, flooding someone’s inbox with emails (whether you consider them legitimate or not) is considered spamming them.
This has to be the most egregious of all email offenses and elicits some of the biggest complaints. I’ve personally seen inboxes with more than 3,000 emails and recently read a story where a user had 40,000 emails in their inbox. 40,000! That is absurd. Not because of the amount, but because those users let them get that way. There’s no excuse for that much inbox email and the blame falls squarely on the user’s shoulders.
If you’re currently in such a situation, then here’s what you do:
- Delete all email in your inbox to start from scratch. [info]Note: If you have that many emails, there is zero chance you will actually read through all of them. Just delete them and if any of it was crucial or important, you’ll hear about it again.[/info]
- Create folders for email from senders you expect and want.
- Monitor your email closely for the next week. Create filters for everything you want to save and label junk you don’t.
- Continue that process until you no longer receive dozens of messages in your inbox. Remember, even the unwanted email should be filtered. You can mark the unwanted as junk or modify a filter later, after the inbox is cleaned up.
Addins & Plugins
These items can be incredibly handy or outrageously limiting. If a plugin requires specific integration or lacks open versatility between apps or email services, then get rid of it. That might be easier to say than do, but if you’re chained to one of those types of plugins, then you’re limiting your email freedom and hindering mobile productivity.
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