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Email Guidelines – Part 5 – Reading Email

Now I turn to the part where you actually read your email…

Don’t let the emails pile up in your inbox. If you get behind – it takes a long time to dig out.

I did a poll on this site and asked how often you check your email and most of you are always checking. But I am hearing that some set aside specific times in the day to check and reply to email. If you know this to be the case with someone that you are emailing, then do not expect a prompt reply. Maybe you should give them a call if it is urgent.


If you choose to deal with each email as it arrives:
• You could file it in a topic or project folder to read later
• Carry out the actions requested by the sender (and then either filing it or deleting it)
• Delete it

My approach is to respond right away if I can. If I can’t then I flag the email for later review.

Develop a procedure for saving email. Do you really need those emails that just say “thanks” from people?

My approach is that I save them all chronologically. Most people to not do this. They put them into folders by topic. I do not. Now that I am on Office 2007, I can easily search my emails to find things by topic. My mind stores things by date and time, so I also do that in my email inbox. They stay in my inbox in that order that I get them.

I offload my inbox to a personal PST file that is archived. I do not keep email more than a month old on the email server.

You can also set up filters and rules for incoming mail; this is useful for organizing mail from mailing lists and deleting spam.

Be careful about what emails you open. Apply common sense and reality checks before assuming any message is valid – even if you think you know who it came from. Never open an attachment unless you know what it is and you are expecting it. Even then it is wise to be cautious as many email viruses play on the very human trait of curiosity to spread their viral payloads.

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