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Guest Post: Email Overload

This Guest Post is by Jean Anderson, Continuing Education Coordinator for SCLS and panda enthusiast!

At 4 am this morning I was pondering a technology question, “how do I manage my document files, and all those emails that I’ve saved from past discussion lists, and all those favorites,” especially the ones that no longer exist or I no longer need.  What a chunk of time I would have to invest to clean up my computer files.  Is there an easier way?

Email-Eeek While preparing for a Googlicious Training program for Reedsburg earlier this year, Kerri brought this question to me. Many of the tools that I use can help with this question. I’ll try and help you with these issues in a series of posts over the next couple of months.

First I’ll deal with email. Back in 2009, I did a Brain Snack on email and presented some ideas for dealing with email overload. In addition to the recording, there are some links to articles and books that I still refer to.

I use Gmail and the tools that I’ll talk about focus on Gmail. Your email program may have similar options and tools. Making the best use of the tools we already use can do a lot towards improving  your productivity and efficiency.

I utilize labels (or folders) and filters to organize my email inbox. Filters
If you subscribe to many email lists, filtering these into a separate folder or label so you can read them when you have time helps you be more efficient. Here’s an example of a filter that I use. I subscribe to publib but I don’t want those message to appear in my inbox (publib is a very active list!). I created a filter that looks for a subject heading of publib, applies the label publib, and skips the inbox. ILabels   also use a Gmail feature called Show All if Unread (in Settings in the Labels tab). This feature will hide labels when there are no unread messages. This means that when there are new items in LearnRT, the label shows up in my sidebar indicating I should read them. After reading them, the label disappears from my sidebar.

With Gmail, I don’t worry about the size of my mailbox. I archive messages that I think I may need to reference in the future. With Gmail, I can easily search and retrieve any needed messages.

If you need to clean out your mailbox periodically, here’s what I did before I moved from Eudora to Thunderbird (and Gmail). I set aside 20-30 minutes a day and worked through all my folders. As I went through them, I saved some messages, deleted others, and also thought about my organizational scheme for my new email program. This is also a good year end or new year project.

For more info about filters in Thunderbird, check out Brian's post: "Thunderbird Email Filters."
For general tips on dealing with "email overload", try Jean's Brain Snack on email and/or this "11 Tips for Dealing with Email Overload" blog post.


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Check out a new service called Mermailer at www.mermailer.com. To the extent you like subscribing to receive deals and social networking updates, but hate the resulting email overload, it is a free service that is great to use. You get a mermailer address that you use in lieu of your primary address when you sign up for subscriptions. It receives the subscriptions for you, consolidates and organizes them and sends them to your primary email in a single "summary" email when you want it. Plus using the email address mermailer gives you protects your primary email address. The service is still undergoing some testing, but it works and I recommend checking it out!

Thanks whoever recommended Mermailer.com. I signed up for a few days ago, switched over my emails and my inbox is soooooo much cleaner!!

Thanks whoever recommended Mermailer.com. I signed up for a few days ago, switched over my emails and my inbox is soooooo much cleaner!!

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