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How to Manage Your Inbox

written by: MD Weems•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/31/2008

Email inbox getting full and you aren't sure what to do or how to manage it? Feeling overwhelmed when you see that you have thousands of new messages? Well, here are some tips to help you manage your email and keep it under control.

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    It Keeps Growing and Growing and Growing

    We all have this problem. We open our email in the morning to see that we suddenly have a hundred or a thousand new email messages crammed into our inbox. We sigh, we groan, and then we get to work on cleaning it out – which takes an hour. Surely there has to be a better way to manage email right? Well there is. And, in any email program you can easily find ways to sort your email so that you have the keepers in one area and that great spam email in another. Here are the tips and tricks that you need to use with your daily email inbox to keep it, and you, sane.

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    Categorize It

    This is where you should start first. Create categories for the emails that you receive the most, such as from work, your family, and so on. You want to make sure that you create different categories for all of the different types of emails that you receive so that you don't miss anything or mistakenly place one email in the wrong area. This would basically undo all of the categories that you have just set up.

    Some email providers will allow you to create folders that you can place emails in and even allow you to sort emails to go into those folders when they come in. This can be another great way to sort through emails without sitting and going through each one. Then, when you are ready, you can go through and check them according to which ones are the most important to you. By creating folders under your categories, you'll be able to narrow down everything easier.

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    Follow the Rules

    Set up special rules for managing your emails. Rules are what helps your email inbox know where to place emails that come in. For example, create a rule that will target all the emails from your boss and have them placed in a specific folder or marked as important or another way of sorting them so that you can easily see where they are and answer quickly. You can then do this for all of the other categories or specific people that email you so you can find what you want right away. Setting up rules for your email is another great way to help you manage it.

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    Manage That Spam

    No, I'm not talking about Spam from a can. I'm talking about that junk that we are all bombarded with in our email inboxes – you know, “You've Won The National Lottery” or “Want To Lose Weight?”. Yeah, we've all got them. By using your rules and categories you have just created, you can easily create one that will manage the spam and junk that hits your inbox so that it heads straight for your trash folder and you don't even see it. Now, sometimes, things will sneak through, so don't fret. Spammers are always able to come up with new ways of disguising their emails so that they don't get flagged by filters and rules. But, if you set up your rules correctly when it comes to spam and junk mail, you'll find that 99% will hit that trash file.

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    Finally Manageable

    Now that you have set up your inbox so that you're read to rock and roll with your email, you should be able to manage email easier and finally get a grasp on those important messages that you have been missing. Just make sure that you stay on top of your messages that are still heading into your inbox so that they don't pile up on you again. It is easy to put off checking your email and then see that everything is piled up to an almost unmanageable. When it gets to this point, you'll have to start going through each email one by one as you have already filtered them as far as you can go.