Some common-sense tips for taming email

From simple organizational tips to security best practices and specific ways of handling Gmail, SaneBox has published more than 100 ideas for managing the incoming flood.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

OK, I usually tend to avoid vendor tip lists like the plague because they are obviously trying to sell something.

But a new list compiled by email filter service company SaneBox offers some really commonsense "hacks" for better organizing your email, avoiding silly security mistakes, making the most of the Gmail service or improving your email etiquette.

I know this topic is a pain point for many small-business owners who wear too many different hats every day running their company, and who hate wasting precious time on email — especially considering the number of you who keep reading my past post on achieving email sanity.

Here are nine of my favorites from the 100 ideas included in the SaneBox guide, which come from users, venture capitalists, journalists and other sources that the company interviewed for this ebook.

  1. Don't unsubscribe from suspicious emails, because you will probably end up with more junk mail as a result. You've basically just confirmed your email address for the nasty spammers

  2. Bulk-process all the "bacn" (legitimate newsletters, site updates and social media alerts) by creating a folder where they can be handled separately from other email

  3. Create some templates so that you can respond more quickly. If you find yourself responding in the same fashion to certain sorts of email, why not use a canned response? You can answer and delete much more quickly. Note to self for all of the misdirected email PR pitches that I receive

  4. Don't use images in your signature. OK, yes, you want to brand your company, but they look like attachments, which makes searching for anything with a real attachment difficult, and they will also take up more space over time

  5. Delete or archive what doesn't need your attention immediately. According this tips list, about 58 percent of the emails that make it into the average inbox fall into one of these two categories

  6. Use a "defer" folder for items that require thought or future attention, but that you don't want to deal with right now. A plug for SaneBox, which actually has a service that does this: if you move an email into one of its defer folders, it will pop back up again at a future data (either the next day or a predetermined time)

  7. Keep your email client application closed when you're trying to handle projects or meaningful work. Process incoming messages only during certain times of the day that you choose

  8. Be decisive and to the point to cut down on lengthy back-and-forth conversations. If someone wants to make an appointment, answer the note not only with the times you are available (pick maybe three), but also decide how the conversation or meeting will take place and include that in the inevitable invite.

  9. If you use Gmail, there is a feature called "mute conversations" that will automatically route incoming mail to your "All Mail" folder instead of the inbox. That's for those interminable threads where someone has decided to CC you. The message will be filed automatically, if/when you need it.

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