Create 4 basic folders (Labels) in your email.
- Action (To act on fast - set task appointment and reminders)
- Deferred (Things that can wait)
- Read Review (Items of interest that are not important to act on)
- References (Information you can't just Google when you need it)
Delete the garbage (Archive/Delete as needed)
- select 'All mail' and use the search feature to find oldest emails
- grab all the old emails and archive or delete
- use search filters for past Newsletters no longer wanted and delete those too
- unsubscribe to unwanted news-feeds and letters as you go
Create tasks for actionable emails
- for date specific items, create a task in your gmail calendar with reminders
- place a star on email needing action
- file actionable email under the 'Action', 'Deferred' or 'Read Review' labels
- consider using Evernote for task lists (Free to use and it can sync anywhere)
- take time to set up good task lists
- learn the 'GTD - Getting Things Done' method of productivity for the most effective task list management
File away your resource emails
- these can all get lumped into the 'References' label
- search old email and file as needed
- only keep what you can't find easily on Google whenever you want
- if you have newsletters or email that need to be read but not urgently, place them under the 'Read Review' label
Create filters & practice quick communication
- create filters as needed for future news and resources
- review old labels and consider new filters for Read Review and Deferred tasks too
- keep your email engagement down to 2 minutes each as much as possible
- if you can answer or file away an email in less than 2 minutes, do it immediately
Email is a lot like regular mail. The best practices involve handling your email just as you would with ‘paper', touch it only once.
Collect in one ‘In-Box’ and clean it out daily. Open and decide on each message right away and preferably with the trash bin in site.
If you find yourself reading all your emails in a row and then afterwards re-reading the important ones and only then respond or perhaps sometimes letting hours or days pass before returning them or forgetting about them altogether try applying the “one-touch” rule.
For example, if an email comes in that requires no return mail and no follow up file it away in its appropriate folder or delete it immediately.
If something comes in that requires you to take action soon, yet not at the very moment, make a calendar or task appointment to remind you to take action when you know you will have time, and then immediately following this file away the email into it’s appropriate folder.
It is important to note that spending time to set up good folder systems within your email, just like with paper files, to find the information again later when you need it will become imperative.
For emails that regularly come in yet you know in advance that they will not require your immediate attention and can be put off until you require the information, such as newsletters or the odd report, set your email with a “Rule” to file away the email into the appropriate folder automatically.
You can then look at these when you have time or even set a reoccurring calendar appointment to remind you to check it when you know you will have time to do so.
If you do get an email and the sender is in need of a response sooner than you know you will be able to give an appropriate one, try not to leave them stranded, wondering if their email was overlooked or forgotten. I brief response to them advising them as to when they can expect a proper answer will let them know their request has been noticed and you are prioritizing effectively. They will generally be more apt to wait patiently until they hear from you again.
As things are easier said then done, be sure that you set an appropriate reminder for yourself to get back to people when you said you would. Give yourself a bit of a buffer if you feel you need it too, because as they say “It is better to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver”.
And the trick to keeping your inbox empty… set yourself up with simple but relevant ‘folders’ in your email program. Once you review and process an email, file it away, out of the inbox.
You can create folders for ‘Action Items’ that await completion too. These can be set up in addition to your main folders. If something requires no action, file it away to its proper folder and if it’s not important enough to read or act on and no one is expecting a reply, get comfy with ‘deleting it’. You can always open the trash bin to fish something out should you be called to act on it later for some reason.
Remember the 4 D’s;
For more tips and information on email management and email etiquette start by checking out this great resource: “Top 26 Most Important Rules of Email Etiquette” http://email.about.com/od/emailnetiquette/tp/core_netiquette.htm
And if you get stuck and just can’t bring yourself to the task of cleaning out thousands of old messages and setting up a system for yourself that works, call a professional organizer to help. Many people find the process overwhelming and our passion is to help you get through it while teaching you some tips and tricks to make it easier to maintain in future.
Not to scare you, yet lately I have been noticing that many people in my network have been the victims of email hijacking.
I know this has happened when I start getting spam for money making schemes and pharmaceutics from my fiends and associates. And to top it off, everyone getting the email has their email address exposed in the ‘to’ field. Darn, I guess I can be expected more spam soon.
When I see this happening it makes me feel more cautious about my own data protection. So much so that now when I go to coffee shops I use my phones Wi-Fi capabilities, rather than open up my system to their free network. Heck, I don’t know how my friend’s or associates emails got hacked into, yet I don’t want to take any chances.
I also use a variety of passwords to protect my various accounts and have installed a ‘hard-disc’ password on my laptop. I did this so that no one can get in should my system be stolen. My ‘cloud’ back-up provides some comfort too, so in case this ever happened, my data should remain safe.
As I was pondering all of this a few days ago, I was happy to see an email come in from Mike Massullo from Nerds on Site. (I enjoy his short and sweet emails and reminders.)
It occured me to ask Mike for some advice.
‘How does this happen and how can we protect our data better?’ I asked.
Mike was kind enough to share with me a whole lot of great advice and information. He provided me with hints on how we can protect ourselves and some great suggestions on what to do to minimize any damage.
He was also kind enough to give me permission to share them with all of you. As a bonus there are some added descriptions of the ‘Nerds on Site’ online services. I think you will find them quite interesting.
Security Hints Be Diligent
By Mike Massullo - Nerds On Site
Scan your system regularly for spyware
My current preferred anti-virus is Microsoft Security Essentials. It is good, fast and free, even for small businesses up to 10 users. In addition the free versions of MalwareBytes (www.malwarebytes.org) and SuperAntispyware (www.superantispyware.com) are excellent tools to catch things that MSE might have missed.
Each anti-virus/anti-malware program uses its own list of bad things, necessitating the need to use multiple tools in case one missed something. Be careful not install any active processes when installing MalwareBytes and SuperAntispyware, the only thing worse than a virus is two anti-virus programs competing for resources.
Make sure that your Windows updates, Java updates and other programs are all current. When an update is released, an explanation of the problem being fixed is also released – if they already didn’t know, the bad guys will take advantage of this to exploit the flaw. Java is particularly important as a legitimate website can be compromised and one click on the site will infect your computer.
You can protect yourself by turning scripting off in your browser, but so many websites rely on this today that it will significantly affect your browsing experience, so I don’t recommend this.
Stay Away From Facebook
Forget that once you upload something it belongs to Facebook, it is also a major source of malware. If you are asked to install a new driver so you can view some video, it is probably installing a virus.
Apple Products, it may be cool to own a Mac or an IPhone, but they are so much easier to hack than a well-protected Windows computer. They do not integrate well into a Windows / business environment. They tend to cost twice as much to support than a Windows workstation.
Spend the extra money on Windows Professional when buying a new computer. If it comes from the factory with Windows Professional installed, it will most likely be a business grade computer and will last longer than a consumer model. Windows Professional has more control over file sharing and network access.
When connecting to a new network, it will ask you how it should treat that network. Select Public if you do not wish to share any files or data, select Office if you do. So at Starbucks its Public at home it is Office. I do not recommend using the home network option.
A good compromise to a long set of random characters would be two miss-spelled words with a number or two thrown in. Changing your password on a regular basis is also recommended. Should your account get comprised, this would secure it again.
Have a unique and strong password for each service. This way, if (or when) one of your favorite services has a password breach, you don’t need to be concerned about that password making you vulnerable in other accounts.
Use a password manager like LastPass (http://lastpass.com) (with a strong password).
Use OpenDNS (www.opendns.com) to protect yourself from Phishing attacks. The goal of online criminals most commonly is to impersonate you and somehow profit from you. There are many different threats, including blended threats. OpenDNS protects from many of these.
Ask your bank for 2-factor authentication options. The jackpot for an online thief is to access your bank account. By requiring 2-factor authentication, it makes it significantly more difficult for anyone to break into your account. Some banks will send you an SMS to your mobile phone to confirm each online access or transaction. Others use number tumblers. We hope some banks will soon start offering One-Time Password (OTP) such as the Yubikey.
Paid vs Free
Should something go wrong when using a free service like Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, there is not much that a user can do; beyond making sure that a backup email address is available. Should you get locked out of your account may be very difficult to get back in if you cannot prove who you are. Do not expect any compensation for damages, after all they were providing you a free service.
If you are running a business consider moving to a paid service like Google Apps for Business. This paid service has many technical benefits that make it worthwhile on its own. As a paid service you will have more options for support and compensation should something go wrong on the part of the service provider.
On Line Services available thru Nerds on Site
Google Apps for Business
www.google.com/enterprise/apps/business Google Apps includes dozens of critical security features specifically designed to keep your data safe, secure and in your control. Your data belongs to you, and Apps tools enable you to control it, including who you share it with and how you share it. Our data center network provides exceptional security and guarantees reliable access to your data, 24x7x365.25 (that’s right: no rest, even on leap years).
http://timewellscheduled.com/ TimeWellScheduled is a fully tailored, secure, online time and attendance software that enhances your workforce management capability. TimeWellScheduled facilitates employee attendance, scheduling and associated payroll tasks through easy-to-use, automated time and attendance software. Features include everything from staffing and employee scheduling, to time clock and payroll management.
http://projectmanage-it.com/ ProjectManage-IT® is a web based project management system designed for organizations that require a more efficient means of collaborating 24-7 on all project accounts with staff, clients, consultants and suppliers.
http://mybusinessos.com/ MYbusinessOS is a complete all-in-one solution for intuitive online business management. A complete dashboard system for companies everyday needs from communication portal to resource libraries.
http://nerdsonline.com/nerdsbackup/ NerdsBackup solutions plans make it easy to pay only for the services you actually need. Rest assured that all of our products deliver state-of-the-art data protection and encryption providing you the peace of mind of knowing you can always retrieve your important data when you need it.
Domain Names - With over 150 domain extensions, our team can fulfill all your domain requirements. Nerds On Site offers an advanced domain portfolio management tools for all your domains.
Shared Hosting - The most common type of website hosting, Nerds On Site offers a twist on the traditional shared hosting solution. Our team offers more than the just the basic packages, and all with less confusion and complexity!
Cloud Servers - More than a buzz word, Cloud Servers are the most economical way to host large or specialized web applications. Dedicated to your needs, Cloud Servers are scalable and more secure than shared hosting.
The same team that developed Timewellscheduled.com, Projectmanage-it.com and Mybusinessos.com can develop a custom or template website for you.
I love using Microsoft 'Outlook'. Like the rest of the Microsoft Office suite this gem is a must for me, as the features it has are great for keeping emails, calendar appointments and tasks organized.
Features like 'categories', 'drag and drop' capabilities, 'reminders' and 'flags' make organizing email, time and tasks much easier.
Today, for all you 'Outlook' users I have a few helpful links to learn how to set up Auto Reminders... Enjoy!
*Click here to learn about 'Auto Responses' for Outlook 2010:
*Click here to learn about 'Auto Responses' for Outlook 2007:
*Click here to learn about 'Auto Responses' for Outlook 2003:
While you're visiting 'office.microsoft.com' why don't you check out the other software files too? After all, you never know what you can find to make your job easier.
PS: If you use Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail or anything else and are looking for some good tips on how to perform a certain functions that will make your work easier, please email me. If I don't already know the answer, I will take time to find some answers for you and pass them on in a following ezine.