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THE GOLDEN RULE Help your friends and colleagues cope with their email overload by NOT contributing to it! You know how it goes: "do unto others..." It's old cause and effect thing. Unless they've expressed an interest, perhaps you can hold back on sending those jokes, greeting cards and CCing them on every-little-bit-of-business. While we're on CCing, it's important for companies to develop a policy on what to CC and to whom. If your company doesn't have a policy in place maybe it's time for you to be Corporate Hero and...
DEAL WITH A MESSAGE ONLY ONCE How many times have you read a message, flagged it for follow-up, came back to it, read it again, perhaps left it until you have more time, came back to it, read it again... then replied. This is not a very efficient use of your valuable time, is it? A great discipline is to deal with message once. That is to say, once you've committed to reading it, reply right away before you go on to next message.
DON'T REPLY TO 'EVERY' MESSAGE That heading was hard for me to write because one of my pet peeves is when people don't reply to me. (I'm getting over it.) The fact is that it's NOT necessary to reply to every message. Especially with those one-word replies... like: Great, Cool, Thanks, Beauty etc. Remember Golden Rule? Those short, sometimes meaningless, replies are often only contributing to recipient's email overload.
CREATE FOLDERS Most email clients allow you to set up folders. Although limited in scope, people, project and client specific folders can reduce a lot of stress, especially when it comes to finding a message. I know people who religiously go through their Inbox and drag and drop each and every message into a folder (including a trash folder). Time consuming and tedious yes, but in overall scheme of things folders can make your email existence much easier.
SPAM BUSTING Don't fall prey to "oldest spamster trick in book" - don't use unsubscribe feature in spam messages (not to be confused with Lists and Ezines). Spam marketers and list providers use unsubscribe feature to qualify email addresses! Do you see irony?
You can consult with your ISP. More and more ISPs are providing spam filters. You can also forward spam you get to FTC. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope these suggestions have brought you some hope. This list, of course, could extend to many more pages but I'd better let you go.... You've got tons of email to deal with!! Happy organizing!
Terry Johnston is Vice-President of Marketing with Caelo Software Inc. Caelo develops user-friendly email organizing software http://www.emailorganizer.com mailto: email@example.com