Simplify

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)

Photo courtesy of Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)

How do you manage your email?

If you are like me, I get hundreds every day. Most days, I can hardly keep up with the bombardment of new information. The complication is then what do I do with that information once I’ve opened/read/heard/seen it? As more emails pour in, that one I needed to respond to sinks lower and lower on the inbox list until it’s out of sight and lost in all the others.

My favorite kind of emails are those that I can just read and delete. But sadly, most are not so simple to deal with. There are some that need to be answered, pondered, researched or otherwise saved and put away. So how to keep up?

I do use Outlook, and have rules set up to send certain emails to a folder so that it bypasses my inbox altogether. That way things like blogs I want to read later end up in a folder so I can just go through them all when I am ready.

I’ve been saving emails that way too. If it was something important that I wanted to keep, I tucked it in the appropriate folder to refer to later. I thought I was being very organized and smart.

But this weekend, my Outlook crashed. I had a corrupted Outlook data file, and I lost all of those emails. After that initial heart-stopping panic (“oh no no no no no!) and sinking feeling when I opened Outlook and there was nothing except an empty inbox and no folders, I took a deep breath and went about finding a solution.

I was able to set my email box up again with a new data file, and thankfully, the last few weeks of emails downloaded again from my server (yeah, all 3434 of them, and I am still wading through them to make sure I’ve dealt with them all). But I realized I needed to set up a different system for saving and processing the important ones, other than letting them live in Outlook folders.

Luckily, I discovered two tricks, which I will be testing over the next few weeks. (Some of you may have already known these two tricks, this but for me it was an aha moment).  I already use Evernote as a way to keep track of notes and other information, in conjunction with Nozbe as a task and project management tool. But I did not know that I could email to both of these apps. Are you kidding me?

So already, I can see great potential for the “new Carol”! Those sweet inspirational emails from friends can be forwarded right to Evernote with the designation @inspiration to go into my inspiration folder. That email from my church committee that I need to act on can be sent right into Nozbe to be scheduled and dealt with on my next weekly task list review. Even work emails that need to be referred to later can be sent to my work folder in Evernote or Nozbe for safekeeping.

The beauty of this is that not only will things be safely stored so that they won’t be lost, but I can access either program from any of my electronic devices or online, no matter where I am.

I just felt a little wind of relief puff by me. This isn’t just email management, it’s life management.

What tools and shortcuts do you use to simplify your life with email?