From email novice to email pro with 5 easy tips

June 6, 2016

I’m an email pro.  I spend about 85 to 90% of my time working and 100% of my work is web based.  So needless to say I am consistently online and my work emails (I have 3 in total) are my main point of focus.  Over the years I’ve implemented a few techniques which allow me to be most efficient when dealing with my mailbox, minimizes the clutter and keeps me focused and on high alert to know exactly what I need to do and when I need to do it.  Today, I would like to share these simple tips with you.

Email pro tips

Bellow you will find my personal collection of 5 simple email pro tips you can implement today and hopefully be at least 40% more productive with your email related tasks.

Keep your inbox empty

This is by far the biggest positive change you can make on your email client (web or desktop base).  Keep your inbox empty and only leave on your inbox stuff you need to process, reply to or act on.  If done correctly, this simple change will save you from “forgetting” about pending stuff or losing track of important (and often time sensitive) issues.

Catalog your mailbox using folders or labels

Every web client or desktop app today offers you the option to clasify your emails by folders or labels.  Most will even provide you with automated rules that will magically classify them for you based on a set criteria.  This will help you keep relevant topics grouped up which makes finding information about a set criteria a lot quicker and organized.  It also helps you clear the clutter of having to scroll through houndreds of emails (and a lot of spam) when trying to find something.

Configure your email using IMAP and stop using POP

If you’ve been working with emails for a long time, IMAP and POP should sound familiar to you… POP was such a powerful keyword back in the day that a lot of people still today read POP when configuring their email clients and immediately click with it, thus ignoring IMAP.  While the differences in these protocols could be its own writeup, what’s relevant here is that when using IMAP, your email client essentially syncronizes the actions you take (send, receive, draft, etc) with the server, thus allowing you to continue working from another client at a later stage without losing track of your previous operations.  POP on the other hand is a more independent protocol where you are effectively releiving the server from its email archiving duties and controlling them via a client of your chosing instead by downloading your messages without leaving any trace on the server (though that could be cofigured differently).

This is important and relevant because for a streamlined and efficient flow (specially if you are on the go) you are likly to start typing emails on your phone and needing to finish it later, or perhaps you need to access an email you had send from your phone when you are on your desktop.  In almost any case nowadays, IMAP is the way to go.

Make effective use of your mail server settings

Often ignored, any modern email server (or third party service) will provide you with tools such as Signatures, Autoresponse, Forwarders, etc.  These can be extremely effective in keeping you organized, reduce back and forth and give you a fail safe.  Will you be away for a while? setup an auto response that will notify anyone who writes to you when you are more likely to respond.  Use signature to provide your readers with relevant “go to” information that they are likely to need (ie: your phone number, address or company website), use forwarders so that you can signup for services or products that require you to do so without having to give them your main email address and thus giving you another protection layer versus spam.  You could even take that further if combined with folders or labels, you could configure email forwards to land at a specific place, thus keeping your inbox clutter free.

Use the Webmail service

Another one that is often missed is that almost every hosting service or email service offers you an option to access your email via “webmail”.  This is essentially a Web Client that allows you to quickly jump on your emails without needing access to a client.  Perhaps you are traveling or just had your phone stolen, no problem.  Just hop on any public computer or Internet cafe and use the webmail interface to protect your account and catch up on anything urgent you might be required to do.

These are just some of the things that help me keep my cool.  I work with over 50 different corporations, I simultaniusly work or overview over a dozen projects, I administer 17 Web servers and I am a full time Web Developer with over 2 dozen websites of my own… my inbox sees over 100 actionable emails per day, yet when I shut down my computer every night, my inbox is clean as a whistle and ready to handle a new batch the next day.

If you are anything like me, I strongly suggest you play with my suggestions above for a smoother emailing experience.

Tried any of these already? let me know your experiences bellow or any tips of your own.