MY Hines

Misadventures in Cleaning Up Email

Posted on: December 23, 2009

It is that time of year that I stop and look at what I should get done before New Year’s Day and what things I should have never let get away from me. There is one item that always seems to get the best of me each and every time – and I preach about this to others: Email.

I do everything that I tell others not to do:

  1. Do not use your deleted items to store important email.
  2. Do not keep junk mail, delete it right away.
  3. Do not wait until your mailbox is full to clean it.
  4. Do not keep everything in your inbox without any sort of system of folders to maintain important information.
  5. Do not forget to unsubscribe to email neewsletters that you do not want to receive.
  6. Do not sign up for any more enewsletters until your email is under control.
  7. Do not just delete everything in your inbox without knowing what is in those emails – you may really need them!
  8. Do not forget about cleaning up your archive folders.

I also forget everything that I tell people to do:

  1. Schedule a time once a week or once every two weeks to go through your email and clean it up.
  2. Create folders in your Inbox for specific topics that you can navigate to quickly.
  3. Save documents that have been sent to you via email to a document location outside of Outlook.
  4. Folllow the “Getting Things Done” philosophy and handle an email issue as soon as possible if it is only a couple minute resposne.
  5. Delegate.
  6. Permanently delete junk mail from email – hold the shift key when deleting the email so it bypasses the deleted items folder from the start.
  7. Keep your deleted items folder very small and never have it have a number next to it indicating that there is unread messages inside of it.
  8. If you can archive, archive only emails that are truly email. Never archive junk mail.
  9. Keep up with any spam filtering/junk mail software you use. Clean out the junk mail folder in Outlook and make sure that they are all truly junk mail.

So now it is before the holidays and when I plan to work from home between Christmas and New Year’s – my biggest goal to do is to clean up my email. I do this to myself all the time. I know how wrong it is. I’ve written them down above. It’s just bad.

But it’s so easy being bad!

So, I’m going to take a deep breath and just realize that this will not get me a lump of coal for Christmas. This will not take four days to clean up if I put my mind to it. I am also going to admit right now – it’s going to happen again!  (But just maybe it will take longer to happen!)

I do think that there are presonalities of “email users” and that will be explored. I see it in my mind. Just like part of a staff party yesterday where we selected the sugary dessert that we liked the best and that dessert indicated our personality (I selected chocolate cake with chocolate icy which seemd to indicate that I have a cold exterior but a warm inside…), I think there are clear ways to think about email users – because for some people, they would naturally never be in this situation that I’m in now.

I guess the good thing is – at least it isn’t snail mail!

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1 Response to "Misadventures in Cleaning Up Email"

[…] up with maintaining my Outlook account – All of the things that I wrote in the earlier post about adventures in cleaning up email, I have to do. It is going to take time to undo the damage that I have done to my account, but […]

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