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5 simple ways to tune your inbox

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Administrative professional Debbie is in search of the magic bullet that will make it easier to archive e-mail—and later find what she needs.

“I hesitate to delete anything that I may need to refer to,” she wrote in an e-mail. “I have several archive folders, but I keep creating new ones more specific to the subject, as it is difficult to remember what subject something is under.”

E-mail is a source of productivity, but it can also become an out-of-­control monster. Tune up your inbox with these tips:

1. Keep your inbox skinny. When you open your inbox, you should see only the most important things. Prune ruthlessly. Unsubscribe from ­everything that isn’t essential.

2. Create a “Review” folder. Move blog excerpts, newsletters and other interesting reads to this folder to keep your inbox focused on important, actionable items.

3. Archive e-mail into folders with broad headings, like “Budget 2011” or “Marketing Campaign.” Subdivide broad headings, if needed.

4. Use a search tool. The truth is, if you’re using a good search tool, you can find anything with keywords. Narrow your search to one of your broad-topic folders.

5. Adjust, adjust, adjust. Add new spam filters and set up new rules to fend off attention-stealing messages.

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