Improving My Email Fu

Amongst the many web changes I have been making lately, the one that has been the biggest change for me personally is the changes I have been making to my e-mail.

The first task was to get rid of the 7 different e-mail accounts I had and focus on only two. I have one for personal mail and one for business mail (and one at my job at Carleton but I am not counting that one). The first thing I did was to forward most of those other accounts to my personal one. This will make it much easier to make sure all of my stuff goes into one place.

Next, when setting up my new personal account I chose to set it up via IMAP instead or POP, another big change for me. The thought of having all of my mail stored on a server instead of locally once terrified me. There was some element of control I thought I would be losing. In fact, the opposite is true. Using IMAP allows me to set up folders the way I want and access my mail from any of the machines I own and have it all look the same. Not only that but I know it is being backed up by my hosting provider, secure and off site, so should my hard drive go south or my house burn down I can still get to my mail.

Speaking of folders, in an earlier post I mentioned Merlin Mann’s Macworld Article that outlined a very simple but powerful way to organize and process your email that ensures everything gets responded to in the proper manner and/or archived and keeping your inbox clear. I implemented this system at work and found it to be quite sucessful. Now, I have finally gotten around to implementing it in my personal life. The combination of this system and IMAP will prove to be invaluable by allowing me to constantly stay on top of my e-mail organization and respond to items quickly.

This system has also forced me to think long and hard about the items I choose to receive and manage. I have redirected all of the newsletters and list mail that I receive to my Gmail account. I have been using this account as a “junk” account for some time but now I have another good use. Now, the items coming to this account is not distracting from my “real” e-mail, I don’t have to delete or otherwise manage them and I can be assured that they are there fo reading at my leisure.