Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lessons in E-mail Management

Maintaining a very public online persona has been an incredible blessing to me. It has also opened doors to a lot of people wanting to communicate with me through electronic means.


I created my very first e-mail address back in 1996. I probably had only two friends at that time who had e-mail addresses as well.

Fourteen years later, e-mail is now my primary tool to communicate with family, close friends, people I work with and connections made through online spaces.

It sounds almost made up but today, I receive about 200-300 e-mails in a day. Some of them personal, others work-related, a lot are notifications, and many of them are newsletters of information that I have signed up for at one point or another.

I do not want e-mails to be my daily enemy. But I knew that if I continued on placing all these new e-mails in one place, I am going to dread my future.

E-mails should be a great thing. I clearly knew this was a powerful tool if I can develop a strategy in mastering e-mail management.

Here is what I did. I wrote down the different 'types' of e-mails I received on a daily basis. The list looks like this:

Personal
Work (external)
Work (internal)
Social Media / Community Profiles
Ministry
Blog
Newsletters
Banking / Online Shopping 

My next step was to create an e-mail address for each list. Here is a breakdown of how each e-mail inbox looks like and how often I check it.

E-mail #1: Personal
These are e-mails from family and friends. People I have an ongoing relationship with. Very few people know this address and I intend to keep it that way. I love this inbox because this is where I see thoughtfully written letters. Frequency: weekends.

E-mail #2: Work (external)
These is the e-mail address I place on my business card for freelance work and business networking. I rarely use it because right now I am not in a position to accept any extra jobs. My full-time job and this blog keep my hands full. However, this address will come in handy when opportunities arise in the future. Frequency: biweekly.

E-mail #3: Work (internal)
The busiest inbox that I currently have. This displays all the correspondence that I have regarding my full-time job. Includes customer e-mails, task assignments, and work issues. Frequency: daily/all the time.

E-mail #4: Social Media/Community Profiles
I use this e-mail address when I sign up for social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. All notifications go to this inbox. I find this the 'noisiest' out of all my e-mail addresses and the one I care for the least, honestly. Frequency: once a week.

E-mail #5: Ministry
My husband is in full-time ministry and I love teaming up with him; being available to many people. This e-mail address is used for ministry updates, missions correspondence, and prayer requests. Frequency: Tuesdays and Thursdays.

E-mail #6: Blog
This e-mail address is intended for correspondence made through happysammy.com. I also use this when I need to get in touch with possible contractors for blog improvements. Frequency: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

E-mail #7: Newsletters
This is a content-rich e-mail inbox and I knew that if I mixed it up with all my other e-mails, it can easily get lost or it might distract me from other messages I need to address immediately. Putting them together in one place helps me schedule a specific time to digest all the information. I use this for blog subscriptions, online newsletters and sign-ups at conference exhibits. Frequency: biweekly.

E-mail #8: Banking/Online Shopping
Most of you know that online shopping transactions can get really spammy. Useless e-mails that come when purchasing an item can bring a lot of stress to other e-mails that needs to be taken seriously. I highly recommend that every online shopper should have an e-mail address devoted exclusively to this. Frequency: once a month or only when I buy something online.


You might be thinking: 8 e-mail addresses?!? The thought of being on top of addresses this many can be overwhelming.

I have found that dealing with 8 different types of e-mails in one inbox and having to look at them all daily can be much more stressful and eventually makes me less efficient. I used to color code and label each e-mail for better management but I found it that this very task is also counter-productive.

I am now in a much better place separating them in different boxes and setting them to different check-in frequencies. Starting them all up is very tedious but the work has paid off since. My current sanity has made it all worth it!

2 comments :

diane elizabeth g said...

haha wow! 8 emails!!! that's amazing you manage to stay on top of all that... actually, it's more amazing you manage to stay on top (and read) over 200 emails a day @_@ i already get stressed getting more than 20 ahahha, so i can imagine staring at more than 200 emails at once, parang spam =\

funny because i have this bad habit of not deleting emails even if they're just notifications or updates... my old trusty email (dsipin@gmail) was already overflowing and 99% full! just in time, getting married gave me the perfect excuse to make the switch to a new email address using my new last name haha. of course...when THAT gets full, i don't know na what i'll do LOL.

for now, i just use Google's Priority Inbox and Labels and auto-filter EVERYTHING... everytime i get new email they go straight to their category, and i can read them based on priority. =)

i found this blog by Michael Hyatt helpful too...i just need to implement what i learned tho P http://michaelhyatt.com/yes-you-can-stay-on-top-of-email.html

Samantha said...

hey diane! e-mails are a crucial part of my job so i have about 11 years of practice -- haha!

i love the michael hyatt link! thanks for sharing that. i will update my blog to include as as it will help a lot of people!