Create four folders with the following names:
ACT – Follow-up
ACT – Pending
ACT – Read
ACT – Reservations
These folders are for temporary emails that need to be dealt with before you transfer them into their permanent folders.
Now create permanent folders for types of email you will be getting or receiving on a regular basis. Use the company name, when possible, for easy identification. For example, “eBay”, “Rogers”, “Ontario Hydro”, and so on. Note: if you regularly purchase items from a particular company, set up a permanent folder for it. For example, “Walmart”. You can also create a general “KEEP” folder for miscellaneous emails.
When you store emails in a folder, highlight the email, select the “Move to” button, and choose the folder to move the email into.
Each day, do the following tasks to keep your email up-to-date:
1. Click the “Sent” folder. These are copies of emails that you sent to someone. Move each one into the folder that relates to that project or issue.
2. Click the “Junk” folder. Check each email to make sure that it really is junk email. If not, highlight the email and select the “Not Junk” button. Then delete remaining junk email.
3. Click the “Trash” folder. Repeat the process that you did for the Junk folder. Then delete the unwanted email in the Trash folder.
4. Click the “ACT – Follow-up” folder. These are emails that require some action on your part. Once you complete the task, move the email into its permanent folder.
5. Click the “ACT – Pending” folder. These are emails that are waiting for some action. For example, an email confirmation of something you have ordered online and you are waiting to receive the product. Once you have received the product, and the issue therefore is no longer pending, move the email into its permanent folder.
6. Click the “ACT – Read” folder. These are emails that you want to read more carefully. For example, an online tutorial you are taking. After reading the email, move it to its permanent folder.
7. Click the “ACT – Reservations” folder. These are emails relating to any reservations you have made, like renting a car or booking a room in a hotel. Once you have finished with them, move them into their permanent folder.
ONCE A MONTH
Once a month, say around the first of the month, go through all your folders and delete emails you will no longer need. This keeps the volume of your emails down. It also gives you a chance to refresh your memory about certain projects you are working on.
It only takes fifteen minutes to set up an email filing system such as this one, but the benefits of doing so can last many years. It will give you greater control over your business activities, a better understanding of things you need to do, a way to find particular emails quickly, and a sense of satisfaction of managing your email well.