When I first started actively using email I was dating a man who lived in L.A. I lived in Utah.
Back in the day people didn’t have cell phones, so we had to pay extra for long distance service. You had to count minutes, 10 cents a minute or 25 cents a minute. You had to work your out-of-area relationships around this.
So our seduction by email ensued. I didn’t have a computer at home yet. So I would spend late nights zipping chats or email back and forth from my office computer “finishing up a story.” I was excited to get to work every morning to see what he had written me. I would get all hot and bothered composing sultry emails to him.
I was Pavloved into loving my email, I looked forward to opening it. Email was an aphrodisiac.
Now, not so much. Now my social interaction on email is a teeny tiny part of my email tasks and absolutely no one sends me passion-drenched love letters (Come on! What does a girl have to do around here to get a passion-drenched love letter?). Email is no longer a novel invention made for sexy wordplay. Now it’s all about work-flow and can become an overwhelming nightmare if you let it get out of control.
Which is why I’ve become legalistic about my email account.
Top 10 Email Taming Tips
- Delete. Delete. Delete. The first thing to do when you open your email is delete everything that you don’t need to read. Delete or Mark as Read anything that tells you what you need to know in the subject line, like a Groupon for a carpet cleaning. If you just got your carpets cleaned you know you’re not in the market for this. Delete without reading and move on.
- Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe to everything. If you want to hit a store and you need a coupon then just go to their website. If you need marketing tips, google it when you have time to research it. You don’t need this stuff in your email. If you subscribe to something that you never read, then unsubscribe. If you want the discount at the register for your email address, do it. Then unsubscribe after the coupon or discount is yours.
- Do Not Subscribe. If you want a free ebook subscribe and then unsubscribe ASAP. Look it’s not personal. I like you and I want to hang out with you. On Facebook. (<—- Like Me.)
- Leave Social Media where it lives. Do not allow social media email notifications. Visit your FB page when you want to engage with social media. Ditto Linkedin and Twitter. There is nothing so earth shattering that you need to know about it ASAP. With one exception: tagged photos. You do need to know if your ex-bff posts a photo of you on FB with a bong in one hand and a beer in another and your skirt pulled up to your waist. This requires immediate intervention.
- Take Care of Action Items Immediately, your chore right now is to take care of email. So if you can hit reply and be done with the task in five minutes, do it. If you can get an item off your to-do list, do it.
- Keep As New, is for the things you can’t do right now but you need to do. Got an assignment and the email includes info you need? Keep As New. Someone needs something and you need to do it later this afternoon? Keep As New.
- Mark As Read, Keep As New, if an item sits in the Keep As New category for a week then Mark it As Read. It obviously wasn’t important enough for you to make time for so it likely doesn’t need doing.
- Search, Not Folders, you don’t need folders dividing up your messages into categories. Search is super awesome. When you receive something that you might need later, say for your annual taxes, send it to yourself in an email. In the subject line put something so obvious that you will remember it, for instance, “2012 taxes” or “Facebook password.” Yes, someone could hack you and find it out. But, the upside of this is that someone will know your Facebook password the next time you have to use it.
- Don’t Allow Email Pushes on Your Phone, you have dealt with your email this morning and you’ll check it periodically throughout the day when you have time. When you’re at lunch with a friend, be at lunch. When you’re hanging out with your kids, be with your kids. Everyone else can wait. Technology is not your master. You are the master of your technology.
- Put Something Nice in Your Inbox, I receive a daily quote from Martha Beck, Abraham-Hicks and TUT.com. They are uplifting quotes that set the tone for the day and remind me to stay focused on the bigger picture. I get a newsletter from my friend Anna just because it’s a pleasure to read once a month. Including something sweet and lovely in your email isn’t as exciting and sexy as a naughty love letter from your long distance boyfriend, but it’s nice in its own way.
This is how you whip email butt!