Email remains the most popular Internet communication method. Even as we witness the evolution of the Net on what seems like a weekly basis, email remains very much unchanged in its technology and importance in our everyday computing lives. Conversations may be taking place entirely within Facebook or Twitter these days, but still it is your email that defines who you are in the cloud. Everyone needs to have an email. Its more important than having a credit card. Without an email address, your are nobody.
The future of email of email appears to hold little change. Although spam filtering and identity verification continues to evolve, the basics of email will stay as they are for the foreseeable future. This means that there is no better time than now to get your own email house in order so you can use it to its full potential and spend your precious time on the things that need doing in your life and business.
Here are 10 tips for a happy life with email:
1. Have more than one email address.
Different addresses should be used for different things. I recommend having at least three addresses; one for your personal identity, a second for your professional identity and a third for use whenever youre not sure if giving up your address is the wisest move. The personal email is the one youll use for family, friends and other personal needs, such as your Facebook account. The professional email is to be used for business communications only. This is how your clients or customers know you. Protect its exposure with your life. The third email address, which I call a slop address, is for everything else. Sign up for newsletters, comment on blogs, gain access to bonus web content or services you want to try out using this address. It will be the one that invariably gets the spam, keeping your other accounts clean. For simplicity, you can make all of the associated passwords the same.
2. Use different services for these different emails.
Using different email services for each address has some real benefits, especially when it comes to your slop address. A good rule is to use one of the accounts that comes with your home Internet service for you personal account, use one that comes with your business web hosting for your professional address (so you have the @mycompnay address), then a free webmail address for the slop account. Webmail service generally have very good spam filtering. Also, when you run into sending or receiving issues, you can send and receive test messages between each account to help you diagnose the problem.
3. Never allow your personal or professional email addresses be visible on the internet.
There are spam-bots constantly searching the web looking for exposed email addresses. When they find them, its all over but the spamming. If you need people to be able to email you from your website, make sure you use a good web form instead of displaying your address. A good form will hide your email address from these evil bots. Forms also make life easier for visitors who use webmail services, like Hotmail or Gmail.
4. Use the email client thats right for you.
The email client is the program you use to retrieve, read and organize your email. Ideally, youll want all of your addresses to be managed from here. Windows and Mac computers come with an email client built in, but this might not be the best for you. Even though Microsoft Outlook is by far the most popular email client for business, it might not be the one youll be the most happy with. Take some time and try out some of the different clients to see which one works the best for your needs. For me, the one that does the trick is PowerMail by CTM Development.
5. Organize your messages.
Create folders for various categories of email and then use those folders to file your messages away for later if needed. Emails are generally small in file size, so you can safely hang on to a lot of them without bogging down your computer. However, if theyre not well organized itll be hard to go back and find what youre looking for.
6. Save everything.
You never know when you might want or need to go back and get that certain email. If youre well organized, saving all of your messages will not be a problem. Dont rely on the trash to save your old messages. Thats not what its for.
7. Use your email clients filtering.
Sometimes referred to as rules, almost all email clients will let you configure filters to help with your organization. For example, messages sent from or to certain address can be automatically placed in folders you define. This will help with your organization and help you be more efficient with your time.
8. Periodically archive old messages.
Most email clients have an archiving feature that finds old messages and places them into an archive. This keeps your email client snappy, yet you have the ability to go back and find that important message when you need to. Also, when it comes time to replace your old computer with a new one, archiving is a great way to move your stored messages over to the new machine easily.
9. Configure your email server management.
Make sure your email client is not set to delete the retrieved messages from the email server right away. Outlook is notorious for this. Its good to leave them on the server for a short length of time so your mobile device has a chance to retrieve the message, or its there when you access your email by another method, such as your webmail. Take a few minutes to look at how your email client manages the messages on the email server. This is usually somewhere in the preferences area. Use a management scheme that makes sense to you.
10. Back up. Back up. Back up.
This is mostly a topic for another time, but I mention it here because of its high importance. The emails that youve so carefully organized and archived hold lots of important information. If you have a catastrophe, your backup will mean the world to you. If youre not backing up on a regular basis right now, you are asking for trouble. Dont let this one slide any longer.
Email remains the bedrock of our on-line communication and identities. I hope these tips will help you have a happy life with your email. If you have any questions, comments or additions to this list, please post them here and I will gladly address them. No pun intended.