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On the Job - Is It Time To Clear Your E-mail Inbox?*
Are you using your e-mail account as an archive?
Whether you work from home or work a 9 to 5 outside of the house, if you are like most people; you use your computer in-box to archive some of your messages.
If you do use your in-box to archive, keep your eye on how much available storage you have left. Occasionally get rid of things you definitely do not want anymore.
Additionally, if you have a packrat personality and save scraps of papers, etc. your e-mail in-box may be nearing its storage maximum. E-mail with large attachments can use up a lot of space and even though many of the e-mail accounts available are increasing storage capacity for users, it is a good idea to keep a handle on what you’re saving. Sometimes an “urgent or cute” forward is saved because you plan to send it to a friend or read it when you have time. Months later, you find it and realize that it is not very cute, nor was is urgent. If you do pass these e-mails on, delete all names before doing so, then delete the item after sending it, it will remain in your sent box. If you do not enjoy forwarded messages, ask your friends not to send them or simply delete them.
Consider creating online archive file folders for important e-mail. When clearing out business e-mail, ask yourself when is the last time I needed or used this? If you feel that it is important, but have not used the information in 6 months, archive it. All or most e-mail systems have the capacity to store files. If the e-mail is from your boss, make a file with her name and store the item there. If it is a general note confirming a meeting and the meeting has taken place, the note is no longer needed. You will have the meeting date on your calendar. If the note contains pertinent information, such as names of the attendees and the subject or issue, put in in your archive file. Many companies have rules and regulations as to how long documents should be saved. The same rules may apply to e-mail.
Some people like to save everything and others just do not want to deal with throwing out what they do not want. Eventually both of those practices can cause the same problems that being a packrat in the brick and mortar world causes--space and clutter issues. If you find that you cannot remember why you are saving an item, it may not be important. Make a miscellaneous archive file for items like this, be careful that you do not toss any and everything in this catchall dark hole.
A fairly easy way to categorize e-mails for archiving is by using the search function to pull up lists of e-mail by subject or proper name. If Anthony Parks sends e-mail concerning the Hamilton project, do a search for Anthony Parks or Hamilton. Once you have the list, make a file folder under the project name or the individual’s name. You will want to keep e-mail correspondence that has been received and sent. Do the same for all of your saved e-mails.
Do you save certain incoming letters or forms because you like the format or the flow of the language in the document? If you use these to draft company letters or forms for business, it is best to prepare the draft as soon as you can and place it in your “Drafts” file right away.
A little e-mail housekeeping can keep your e-mail files orderly and clutter-free.
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