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Internet Tools for Writers: Lower your Email Anxiety

This entry is part 2 of 12 in the series Internet Tools for Writers

Are you sucked into a whirlpool of email every morning only to finally be spit out to discover 1-2-3 hours have gone by? Take advantage of the software and Internet tools to gain control. I use filters and folders so that much of my e-mail is automated. I do NOT have to read everything, nor do I need to read it immediately. Some items accumulate and if I don’t have time at the end of the week or month I may even delete an entire folder’s contents. That often happens with a few subscription-type emails.

I use Outlook and that has really helped me upgrade my efficiency in handling email and tasks. If I read an email that requires attention–not immediate–I’ll flag it. If it’s something I need to do, I’ll task it. I make quick decisions that enable me to sort the mail that is not automatically sorted. There are only about 3 or 4 people whose emails I feel I should read quickly. Those are automatically filtered into folders but their folders are moved up to the “favorites” section so I see them first. Newsletters, alerts, and group email are immediately funneled to their appropriate folder to be checked. I use downloadable timers that are set to 2 minutes for immediate response and 15-20 minutes to limit the amount of total time spent on email. My goal is to go through all legitimate email every morning, usually within 15-20 min. so I can clear decks for the day’s work ahead. If an email requires more than 2 minutes for a response I either flag it or convert it to a task. Since I don’t use any sound to let me know when the emails come in, I’m able to maintain focus on my daily work and set specific times for email checks.

The use of filters, folders, flags and tasks allow me to move quickly through my email and the Internet. Any internal tension or anxiety about “growing email” or losing myself in the research abyss of the Internet is eliminated.


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  • http://www.writersroundabout.com Rebecca Laffar-Smith

    What a clever idea!
    I have my Outlook set up with folders that funnel too and sometimes I just let things pile up in there. I haven’t gotten into a relaxed enough frame of mind to just delete everything from a folder if I never get around to reading it. Instead I dedicate time to catching up every week.
    I love the idea of flagging and tasking emails. I’ve often let emails I want to spend more time upon linger in my inbox rather than sorting and scheduling them.
    Thanks for these brilliant concepts. I’ll have to try them out myself. :-)

  • http://www.writersroundabout.com Rebecca Laffar-Smith

    What a clever idea!
    I have my Outlook set up with folders that funnel too and sometimes I just let things pile up in there. I haven’t gotten into a relaxed enough frame of mind to just delete everything from a folder if I never get around to reading it. Instead I dedicate time to catching up every week.
    I love the idea of flagging and tasking emails. I’ve often let emails I want to spend more time upon linger in my inbox rather than sorting and scheduling them.
    Thanks for these brilliant concepts. I’ll have to try them out myself. :-)

  • http://www.vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path Vikk

    Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca! Trust me, once you sum up the courage for the BED (Big Email Dump), you’ll feel a rush of energy. If it’s only groups that are dumped you can rest knowing that the original emails are still on yahoo groups, etc. Glad you enjoyed the post.

  • http://www.vikk.typepad.com/down_the_writers_path Vikk

    Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca! Trust me, once you sum up the courage for the BED (Big Email Dump), you’ll feel a rush of energy. If it’s only groups that are dumped you can rest knowing that the original emails are still on yahoo groups, etc. Glad you enjoyed the post.