Are you getting buried under your email? Start the New Year off with the organizational skills of author Kayelle Allen!
I get hundreds of emails each week, but my inbox is never out of control, and I can usually find any email I need within a few moments. Am I clairvoyant? No. Do I have an assistant? Not for email. Am I just naturally organized? Well, go look at my kitchen and then decide. No… I have simply applied some basic rules to handling it. They all begin with the letter F. I’ve shared these rules with fellow authors in the Marketing for Romance Writers group, and it’s proven helpful. Here are the basics.
Take a look at your email and jot down a generalized list of who emails you. Is it friends? Family? Publisher? Promo people? Newsletters? The people whose email you keep should have their own folders. Rather than give each member of your family a folder, you might consider one big happy folder instead. Have another for friends. If you have besties, by all means give them their own spots. Don’t be afraid to create new folders. What you want to avoid is 500 folders, each with three emails in it. I don’t have a “Misc” folder. Everything has a place. In the next section, I’ll list some specific folders I use for automatically filing email that might be helpful for you.
Most email programs have a filter system. Did you know you can set up messages to bypass your inbox and go straight into a designated folder? Talk about time savers! Don’t worry about missing messages. Most system will bold the name of the folder and/or add a number in parentheses to show the folder contains unread messages. Here are items I autofilter:
Once a day I open these folders and wade through them. Because I use Tweetdeck to manage Twitter, I usually delete the Twitter emails unread. You could set up Twitter not to send them, but that might play havoc with other systems that use those notifications (such as phone apps). So I autofile them and then delete. To be honest, I probably delete well over 100 emails a day unread. There’s no way to keep up with all of it and still have time to write. That’s why having a system that helps you organize and find the important messages is vital.
I can easily see what needs attention in my Facebook folder by sorting the folder by subject. In another folder, I might want to sort by sender. In my inbox, it might be by unread. You can easily change that by either clicking on the top of the row or by selecting a “view by” or “sort by” drop down menu. Most systems also have a find program that lets you search your email. I’ve used my personal email for over 11 years, and it has tens of thousands of messages. That search program is a godsend. Also, name your folders in such a way that you can easily tell what’s in them. If you abbreviate, be consistent.
Once you’ve read an email, file it. Don’t procrastinate. Put it in a folder and move on. That’s it. Simple. File it, and then forget it.
Keep it in your inbox ONLY if it still requires action.
This means tossing. You don’t have to keep everything. How do you know what to toss? Will you need the email to prove something such as purchase, copyright, or licensing? Is it a fan letter? Is it a thank you that’s more than just “thanks”? Will you need the info in the future? Does it make you feel awesome to read it? If the answer to any of these is yes, keep it. If it doesn’t toss it. If you really aren’t sure, make a “maybe” folder and put it there. If you need it, it will be there. If you don’t, toss it later. But don’t make that folder into a giant “decide later” folder. The purpose of flinging stuff is to pare down the dross. It’s like editing. Only keep what forms the story. Email is part of your career-story. Make it good.
That’s my five step program for handling email. As you can see, it’s not hard. If you haven’t started yet, now is a good time. Make folders, and then spend a few minutes every day going through your inbox. File, toss, and move on. You’ll be organized and that inbox will look great. Well, at least until more email comes tomorrow.
What helpful hints do you have for organizing your email? Share!
Join us on Wednesday for Virginia Kelly!
Bio:Kayelle Allen is a best-selling, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr. She is the founder of Marketing for Romance Writers and the owner of The Author’s Secret.
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