How To: Get Your Email Life In Order

The original. Messages with wings.

By: Narayguy (founder)

What was the first email service you used? How did it feel – this new ability to send private messages well before text-messaging showed up? 

For us, it was Pegasus. A black and white and grey mail system with limited fonts and only a few folders. And it was great. I recall checking anxiously after a day was done and feeling the thrill of a new email, in the form of a number next to “New Mail”.

Nowadays, most of us see a number in the 10s, 100s, or even 1000s after “Inbox” and hardly flinch. Email has become just yet another messaging service. It fades in comparison to Facebook notifications, which are usually from friends and have that social boost. Tweets are fun too. Emails however are spam blasts, impersonal, or just reminders to check other web accounts we use.

So it is. Do we have more accounts and services than we really can manage? Perhaps. The question is: How does one regain that sense of excitement from getting an email? This question rephrased: How do we reduce our clutter?

There are social media management sites out there, but, sadly, that just means signing onto yet another account, which will send you more emails and may even want access to your Facebook account. Don’t they all.

So, here are our tips for reducing clutter and regaining control of your emails:

1) Unsubscribe — Be ruthless, and find the unsubscribe button to end emails from Amazon, Macy’s, Verizon, Honest College, Mashable, and anything else that you once thought was worthwhile but now annoys the hell out of you. As you get less emails that bore you, you’ll start to actually value that Inbox number.

2) Respond briefly and right away — This may be the best way to stay on top of your email mountain. 3.sentenc.es provides a good framework. Mulling over an email is unproductive, and people may even come to respect your brevity, knowing that you have limited time. It’s difficult, yet so worth it to create simplicity, as Apple founder Steve Jobs sometimes said.

3) Centralize — Organize Gmail or whatever you use, maybe you still use Hotmail, so all emails come to the same account. This is easily explained on the web. Unless you’d prefer work emails to come separately, but is this kind of distinction really necessary, or just wasting more of your time?

My belief with messaging systems is that they should be fun, and more importantly, informal. Do you really need that “Best regards” after your email? No. In fact, it’s becoming a negative, as people see it as passive aggressive, careless, or demanding a favor. Get on an informal level with everyone you email, and I bet the responses will hold more goodies inside them. Counter-intuitive? Yes.

Messaging of all kinds should be fun, so on a broader level (Meta advice for you computer lovers), experiment with your responses. Try being goofy, or sarcastic, and don’t worry about always saying the right things. Hopefully this will help emails become a bit more fun, like the Pegasus days.

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4 thoughts on “How To: Get Your Email Life In Order

  1. My first email account was AOL. and I really thought I was doing something with instant messaging. LOL. But now that I really use it for email, it really has become filled up with junk. I have to delete multiple messages every day.

  2. AOl and yahoo for me are pure clutter. It's not even worth deleting. and AIM, sadly, has been dwarfed by gmail.

    There was once a time when someone's email was worth about $0.25 to marketing companies, but i think this time has passed. Emails are becoming more and more ineffective, random, and overlooked.

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