Organizing Email - Pruning your Incoming Email Stream

Make sure that you have taken the steps to Manage Your Email before you work on the pruning process!

Once you have a good system of organizing incoming email into to-do folders, and a schedule for working on those to-do folders so that you can get your workload organized, it is time to start pruning the actual incoming email stream.

To give my own experience in this, when I began my big push on email optimization I was getting literally over 1,000 messages a day from all the websites I run. None of this email was spam - these were all legitimate queries, requests for help from members, press releases, review requests, news alerts and much more. It was simply more than I could handle in a day even working 24 hours on it - and every day that went by, the more behind I got.

Once I got everything into folders I was able to start seeing where the "problems" were. I could now see which areas were getting bombarded with messages. Step 1 is definitely do go through that organization process to get a handle on what the current issues are.

Now it is time to prune that incoming mail stream to something you can reasonbly manage in your current schedule.

UNSUBSCRIBE
Take a hard look at each message you process. Do you really NEED that information? Could you get it from their website instead, when you had time to read it? Unsubscribe yourself from any alerts that you do not NEED. You can always re-subscribe later on if you want, when you get time again. For now, prune yourself down only to the absolutely must-have messages.

Auto-Filter
On the BellaOnline site I am subscribed to every single newsletter every editor sends. I need to do this so if an editor has a complaint of "I do not think my newsletter went out" I can verify immediately if the newsletter was sent and what it looked like. However, I do not need to READ all 400 newsletters every week. I have the newsletters auto-filter into a storage folder. They are there if I need to get to them. They do not clog up my to-do folders or inbox, though. I do this by having them all come to a specific email address created for this purpose. It is the only mail that email address gets, and all that email goes into that specific storage folder.

Delegate
On BellaOnline I am fortunate in that I have several managers who help me with the overseeing of the BellaOnline network. I can ask those managers to take on groups of email to help me with them. So for example, the press release load was becoming overwhelming - and most of the time I would simply forward a press release along to the editor who covered that area. I asked one of the managers to take over the press release email address. It was a simple swap - the email address we have press release people use now forwards to that manager instead of me. That one change alone greatly reduce the number of email messages I had to handle each day.

If you do not have someone you work with you can delegate items to, look into hiring a virtual assistant. They work VERY inexpensively from their own homes and do a large number of internet related tasks for you. It is well worth paying someone for an hour a day to free up your time.

Never Display your Email Address
This one is KEY. Never, ever show your email address anywhere on the web - not in a forum, not in a website, not as a contact link. You should always use contact forms to have people contact you. The moment your email address is visible it is going to be hit on by spammers, by cold contacts, by random strangers. The volume of junk mail you will get is astronomical. Not only that, but spammers will now use your address as the "from" message on their spam so that they do not get all the complaints when they send it. You'll get all those complaints and angry messages. If you religiously avoid ever showing your email address anywhere you can save yourself a world of grief.

Subscribe with Temporary Email Addresses
If you MUST subscribe to something, never subscribe with your main home / business address. If that company then sells your email address and information you will be really hard pressed to stop the flood of junk email. Instead, set up a temporary email account at Gmail or Hotmail or Yahoo or somewhere. For example if you are signing up for a National Geographic subscription, create an email address such as "LisaShea-NatGeo@gmail.com" . That way it is crystal clear that only National Geographic knows about that address. If you start to get junk mail in on that stream, you know it's National Geographic's fault and you can yell at them or shut them down.

In terms of reading your mail, simply have the email forward to your home address so you don't have to manually check 800 different individual addresses for your email. If that gmail account starts to get innundated with spam, you can easily shut it down without affecting your real life. If having one email per subscription is too much for your brain to manage, set it up in groups, like "LisaShea-Subscriptions@gmail.com". It means if you do start to get heavy spam that you'll have to switch a few other subscriptions to a new address before you can shut the email address down, but it also means you have fewer email addresses to keep track of.

Review your Mail Situation Monthly
Every month really scan those to-do folders and get a fresh sense of what is going on with your email stream. You want to spot issues when they are small, before they take over your life. The more you can be proactive in managing your communication, the more you can maintain a professional and healthy network!

Sorting Incoming Email
Managing Email


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