Hello SOTGC Community,
This is an exciting time to learn new ways of thinking, working, and communicating as digital technologies become an integrated aspect of our lives. We are using our computers, tablets, and even our cell phones to write, draw, create business materials, and develop more new technology. (Even professional artists are jumping in – I recently saw the David Hockney exhibit in San Francisco that showcased his video art and iPad drawings.) We are using the internet to read, connect with others, attend webinars, and take classes. We are connecting with more people than ever before by using social networking to keep in touch with colleagues, clients, friends, and family.
Some women, particularly older women who didn’t grow up with it, don’t always feel comfortable with the technology that they’re adopting. She may have friends, significant others, or children who are more “technology literate” than she is and find herself depending on them to manage her technology. After all, she is juggling career, family, volunteer work, etc. Who has time to learn the best way to sync our cellphones with our contact management systems?
Unfortunately, as technology advances and marches on, it’s important not to feel left behind. There are ways not to just keep up, but to become literate and empowered by technology. I hope to offer up some of those ways with my contributions to SOTGC. My mission is to help enable women with their technology through my writing, my blog, my monthly newsletter, and through one-on-one coaching. I hope I can help YOU.
This week, I’d like to focus on email management. We all know how to use email and we’ve been doing it for years. But email traffic is getting worse, with every business that you’ve ever dealt with sending email newsletters and every social networking site sending notifications and incentives to upgrade to their premium services. To work efficiently with your email, you need to get back to a simpler, more manageable inbox.
Most of us use an email reader like Microsoft Outlook, but in recent years webmail has become more common, particularly Gmail. There are ways to work smarter with email whether you’re using Outlook, Apple Mail, or Gmail.
Step 1. Create email folders. These serve as repositories for less important emails as they come in so that those newsletters from your neighborhood grocery store aren’t taking up space in your inbox. You may want to read about this week’s specials when you have time, so don’t unsubscribe, manage your inbox instead.
I suggest creating a folder for each email list that you’re a member of, a folder for social network notifications, a folder for each category of newsletter, and a folder for “deferred” items. The point is to keep your inbox sparse enough so that you’re not spending a lot of time daily going through looking for the important emails.
Step 2. Create “filters” – automatic programs that run within your email reader. Filters search for specific criteria, which you define as your email arrives, and then perform a defined action based on that criteria. For example, your filter can search the “from” field for your grocery store name and then save the email to a specific folder that you’ve created in Step 1.
If you use Apple Mail, you create the filters using “Rules” under “Preferences” or using the “Smart Mailbox” feature (which creates a “mailbox” for emails that fit the rules but doesn’t move the original emails out of the inbox). Apple Mail also has a useful “VIP” feature that creates folders for your favorite people – when you open an email from a favorite person, click on the star next to the “from” line. If you use Outlook, filters are called “Rules.”
Once you have your folders and filters set up, you should see a big improvement in your inbox.
Step 3. Flag your emails with priority levels (Gmail uses colored stars), and then sort your inbox by priority, so that you can deal with your most important emails first.
If you have a consistent routine – dealing with the most important emails first and also setting aside some time daily or weekly to flag, sort, and organize your inbox and your folders, then you’ll find that you’ve become efficient and responsive with your email management. No more apologizing: “I’m so sorry, I didn’t see your email”!