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5 ways to zip through e-mail clutter

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in Office Management,Office Technology

When it comes to e-mail habits, some of us are deleters and some are hoarders. Either way, you can learn from these efficiency tips:
  1. Empty hourly. “You have to treat your inbox like you treat your mailbox at home,” says Merlin Mann, creator of productivity Web site 43folders.com. “You wouldn’t store your bills inside your mailbox.”

  2. Add subfolders for storage. Not sure what to do with a message? Maybe you haven’t created the right “home” for it yet. Set up subfolders for storing messages by project name or follow-up date.

  3. Sort messages alphabetically by sender. That helps you delete dozens of messages at a time. Example: Daily or weekly e-newsletters can eventually clutter your inbox; delete all but the most recent issue or two.

  4. Save time by using e-mail’s search function. Today’s search tools are so effective, it probably takes less time to search a stuffed inbox than to look through subfolders to find what you’re looking for.

  5. Search more easily by changing the subject field. Add descriptive words to the subject line that will help you find what you’re looking for later. Example: “Letter to McPherson” becomes “Cancellation of McPherson contract 11/16/06.”
Quick tip: Can’t find a message? Use Lookout, a downloadable freebie from Microsoft that becomes accessible via Outlook’s toolbar. For ferreting out e-mail, Lookout is faster and smarter than Outlook’s Find function.

For instance, it pokes into attachments and the content of PDF files. It also allows you to restrict searches to just last week, say, or to attachments only.

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