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Author Topic: How do you manage your email?  (Read 20300 times)
Dormouse
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« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2008, 06:05:05 AM »

At one stage, I did a lot of sorting, filtering, creating and refining rules for everything including spam.
Like a few others, I've largely given that up. Took a lot of time for little real gain.

I do have a folder for 'Needs Action (but I'm not doing it now)'.
For everything else I just use the Search - either within the prog or using Mailstore.

I do use a lot of email clients having my fingers burnt in the past when one crashed with some emails lost. Problem could usually be resolved in the end, but there was at least temporary lack of access to some emails. These include Opera, Do-Organiser, Spicebird, Thunderbird, Courier and TheBat!. I occasionally download into Outlook; I just use Do-organizer when it is open to see if there is anything new. I store old emails in Courier, TheBat!, Thunderbird and Spicebird. Main client atm is TheBat!.

The one thing I do intend to change in the near future is too filter all my email through my Gmail accounts as its spam filtering seems to be better than anything else I have running. And without any work from me. The one bit of sorting I have to do now is to take stuff out of my ISP's Junk folder because it isn't spam. I don't have this problem with gmail, so I'll be able to turn off the spam filter at the ISP.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 06:24:06 AM by Dormouse » Logged
Armando
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« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2008, 02:21:47 PM »

The one thing I do intend to change in the near future is too filter all my email through my Gmail accounts as its spam filtering seems to be better than anything else I have running. And without any work from me. The one bit of sorting I have to do now is to take stuff out of my ISP's Junk folder because it isn't spam. I don't have this problem with gmail, so I'll be able to turn off the spam filter at the ISP.

I agree with you here. Gmail's spam filtering seems to be working pretty well. That + Outlook : works good.
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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2008, 05:47:42 PM »

OK, I use the Bat at home which has much cooler rules, filters, and coloring features, but now at work I am using Outlook 2007.  So here is my method, based on the GTD philosophy.

GTD is all about being fast, efficient and productive.  With email, especially at work where I get a lot of email, it is not really productive to be moving things around in a lot of folders and categories, etc.  For myself, even for different projects, I'm not going to bother making several different folders for the different projects.  I really don't need to have all the specific project emails have their own folder, because organizing that is a pain in the ass and there's no good rule system to do it automatically, because often there is no particular data in an email/task that distinguishes it from one project or another.  So I'm not going be moving things around manually...no way.

So, everything comes into my Inbox and that's where all the action takes place.  I've set of some GTD search folders.  I use search folders because they are not actual folders, just filtered views.  This way, all the mail stays in the Inbox but I can use the search folders to look at only what I want (like Virtual Folders in the Bat).  The GTD search folders are:
--Do
--Respond
--Delegate
--Defer
--Archive
--Done Items

As soon as I get emails, I will look at it and immediately categorize it (using keyboard shortcuts of course).  Once they are categorized, they will automatically be detected by the search folders above.  So, the only items that will require effort on my part are those in the Do, Respond, and Delegate folders.  I go into those folders to see this list of mails.  As I finish each email, I check it off as "Done" and it automatically gets removed from those folders and into the Done Items folder.  That's pretty much it.  It's quick, efficient, and sophisticated.

As an additional level of prettiness, I take advantage of Automatic Formatting in Outlook 2007 (the one in the Bat is WAY better).  With this, if I look in my Inbox with the all the emails in all categories all mixed together, then this automatic formatting gives me a nice visual way to see things.  So, the items in the specific GTD categories are colored according to their category color.  I also have appointments/tasks/meetings italicized to distinguish them from emails.

So, that's basically it.  It's nice I think.  I like being efficient.


(what happened to that one post about Groupwise??  I was looking for it)
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Armando
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« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2008, 09:41:21 PM »

OK, I use the Bat at home which has much cooler rules, filters, and coloring features, but now at work I am using Outlook 2007.  So here is my method, based on the GTD philosophy.

GTD is all about being fast, efficient and productive.  With email, especially at work where I get a lot of email, it is not really productive to be moving things around in a lot of folders and categories, etc.  For myself, even for different projects, I'm not going to bother making several different folders for the different projects.  I really don't need to have all the specific project emails have their own folder, because organizing that is a pain in the ass and there's no good rule system to do it automatically, because often there is no particular data in an email/task that distinguishes it from one project or another.  So I'm not going be moving things around manually...no way.

So, everything comes into my Inbox and that's where all the action takes place.  I've set of some GTD search folders.  I use search folders because they are not actual folders, just filtered views.  This way, all the mail stays in the Inbox but I can use the search folders to look at only what I want (like Virtual Folders in the Bat).  The GTD search folders are:
--Do
--Respond
--Delegate
--Defer
--Archive
--Done Items

As soon as I get emails, I will look at it and immediately categorize it (using keyboard shortcuts of course).  Once they are categorized, they will automatically be detected by the search folders above.  So, the only items that will require effort on my part are those in the Do, Respond, and Delegate folders.  I go into those folders to see this list of mails.  As I finish each email, I check it off as "Done" and it automatically gets removed from those folders and into the Done Items folder.  That's pretty much it.  It's quick, efficient, and sophisticated.

As an additional level of prettiness, I take advantage of Automatic Formatting in Outlook 2007 (the one in the Bat is WAY better).  With this, if I look in my Inbox with the all the emails in all categories all mixed together, then this automatic formatting gives me a nice visual way to see things.  So, the items in the specific GTD categories are colored according to their category color.  I also have appointments/tasks/meetings italicized to distinguish them from emails.

So, that's basically it.  It's nice I think.  I like being efficient.


(what happened to that one post about Groupwise??  I was looking for it)


Nice.
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« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2008, 10:31:17 PM »

I use Outlook 2007 and have always saved important (to me ) emails, some with very large attachments.  Eventually the *.pst becomes enormous and unmanagable, and takes Outlook forever to open unless they are archived in groups and save as separate pst files which can be stored and backed up.  For example, create a personal folder file called "My emails from 1_2001 to 12_2004.pst"  and another as "My emails from 1_2005 to 12_2007.pst". 

In my case, the average size of the backed up pst files described above is 1 gig to 2.8 gigs.

Using the Outlook/File/Data File Management/Data Files tab, you can point to the default pst file (e.g. a pst file that contains all emails from 2007 to the present) that opens by default with Outlook.  However, at any given time, you can open a previous pst archive, as needed.

Here's the key to the kingdom.  Using the program X1, which is not free but worth every penny, one can maintain an index of all the mail in the old pst files and even MS Exschange files (i.e. *.ost files) and instantly locate and open an old email without having it as the active or default pst file in Outlook.  One can search by name of sender, or receiver, or attachment file type and all manner of wild card combinations.

For anyone that manages or searches humungous piles of emails ranging from the recent past to the very distant past, this is a friggin' awesome system.

Note of caution:  Be sure to backup the original pst file before embarking on the Outlook archiving feature if you are not familiar with it.  I searched the web and found some helpful articles which describe exactly how to do it.  I deleted the links or I would have attached them. 

p.s. I have always been shackled to Outlook, for business reasons only. However, once you learn, it is relativley simple.   Don't overlook the power X1.    I have tried many other software products that pretend to manage Outlook mail, and have not found anything better than groups of pst files indexed by X1.

p.p.s.  This virtually eliminates the need to categorize anything.

p.p.p.s  I use X1 only for Outlook email.  I use Locate32 and dtSearch for most other desktop file searching requirements.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2008, 10:49:59 PM by jdd » Logged
Armando
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« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2008, 11:35:50 PM »

superboyac : I edited the post where I explained how I manage my emails... Your post reminded me of 3 categories/folders I almost  never use.  embarassed
The fact is : I don't have much to delegate, not much to refer to (I use x1)... I do use the "waiting for..." one quite a bit though.
For important emails that I need to respond to but need to defer I'll often just create a special task/todo. I like to have all important stuff in ONE and only ONE place... OK, maybe 2 : Task-todo list (containing next actions, really), and calendar.
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« Reply #31 on: September 09, 2008, 04:19:07 AM »

(what happened to that one post about Groupwise??  I was looking for it)

weird, it's gone -EDIT/ do you mean the one on the Outlook2007 thread ?? Yes, I see you found it ...
http://www.donationcoder....14721.msg128680#msg128680
« Last Edit: September 09, 2008, 04:22:36 AM by tomos » Logged

Tom
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« Reply #32 on: September 09, 2008, 08:01:57 AM »

Thanks for clearing that up, Tom (I had been wondering myself...)  Thmbsup
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superboyac
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« Reply #33 on: September 09, 2008, 12:47:18 PM »

superboyac : I edited the post where I explained how I manage my emails... Your post reminded me of 3 categories/folders I almost  never use.  embarassed
The fact is : I don't have much to delegate, not much to refer to (I use x1)... I do use the "waiting for..." one quite a bit though.
For important emails that I need to respond to but need to defer I'll often just create a special task/todo. I like to have all important stuff in ONE and only ONE place... OK, maybe 2 : Task-todo list (containing next actions, really), and calendar.
Yes, it seems like you and I think alike about a lot of things!  But I thought you were a big fan of Archivarius?  How come you are using X1?  I haven't used X1 in over a year, but I totally preferred Archivarius over it.  Let me know, because I totally forgot that I can use an indexer, so I'm probably going to set one up soon to use with Outlook.
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« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2008, 01:28:30 PM »

I've found a little utility called Poppy for Windows to be worth it's weight in gold. I can preview and optionally kill anything before it gets to my local mailbox, so only what I want gets downloaded. The real beauty of the thing is its simplicity. It's also the only tray/popup notifier I've ever used that works reliably and doesn't cause problems on my machine. Other mail apps may do more - but this little guy does exactly what I want.

Download it here: http://www.jsonline.nl/Content/Poppy/Poppy.htm

Quote
A design goal of Poppy was to keep it as simple as possible. Only the most essential features were added to Poppy to make it easy to use without all kinds of bells and whistles. This approach also contributes to the fact that Poppy is small and will not interfere with your day to day work.

Initially, the only purpose of Poppy was e-mail notification. Since the introduction of version 4.x of Poppy. I decided to add more advanced features. Poppy is still very small however and the new features do not interfere with it's main purpose, which is still be e-mail notification.

Here is a list of the features of Poppy:

    * Checks multiple POP3 accounts for new mail.
    * Uses the taskbar icon to indicate that mail is waiting.
    * A configurable interval between checks of the POP3 account.
    * A a convenient popup menu to reach all functions and configuration.
    * Play a sound when new mail has arrived on any account.
    * Play a different sound for each account.
    * Execute an external program when new mail has arrived.
    * Show a non-interfering popup window when new mail has arrived.
    * Automatically hide the popup window, without user intervention.
    * Always notify or only when new mail has arrived.
    * Always notify or only when mail from a friend has arrived.
    * Dialog to display 'From' address and subject of each message.
    * View the headers of an e-mail message.
    * Preview the source of an e-mail message.
    * Delete e-mail messages from POP3 servers.
    * Select and/or unselect messages based on selection rules.
    * Only notify based on the selection rules.
    * Check e-mail headers against an anti-SPAM DNS blacklist.
    * Option to automatically delete SPAM messages
    * It is small and easy to use.



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superboyac
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« Reply #35 on: September 09, 2008, 03:38:32 PM »

Poppy sounds cool, didn't know about it.  Nice!
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e712
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« Reply #36 on: September 10, 2008, 01:13:11 AM »


Short version:

I delete as much as I can. Drag stuff to the calendar or task list.  Save each project in its own directory and save reference material in subject directories. I work the task list and calendar and keep the inbox empty. I, too, use Allen's GTD system.

Long version:

I believe it's real important to delete stuff.  The more stuff I delete the easier it is to find the reference and project material I've filed.  An empty inbox makes me happy.

I don't trust the outlook file system for project data and reference material. Almost all undeleted email is saved to its project directory or its reference directory on my usb drive. A macro builds a filename from some of the mail fields and saves the file as a *.msg file (which preserves attachments).

Email comes in through the company Exchange server.  The admins are great.  Only three or four commercial spams per year get through.  I do still have a bozo bin rule for two or three inside people and one or two subject lines that are annoying.

The first wholesale deletion is email that is not sent directly to me. I have a saved view that shows my inbox "grouped by recipient".  I don't like the preview window--too big-- but I display the first couple dozen characters of the message field.  Only a few cc's and "All department" mails are _not_ deleted.

I then toggle the view to my standard "group by sender".  I delete mail from my boss and his boss if it is trivial or not worth keeping.  If there's a quick response I do it and then go back to processing my in basket. Otherwise, I drag the mail to the task folder. If the action is going to involve other people or analysis time, or is a multistep process. I click a macro button that gives the task a project name and marks it as a project task. Another macro creates tasks with the same project name and I note the specific action I will need to perform.  Then I go back to processing my in basket.  Later, when I group tasks by project name (BillingInformation) each project and its related actions are in the same group.

If the mail is something I want to keep and refer to later, I try not to keep it.  I delete it if the "refer to later" is only a "might" or "maybe".  Otherwise I then click the macro that names and saves mail to the file system.  If a directory for the reference does not yet exist, I reconsider saving it or, rarely, create a new reference directory. Oh, yeah, training information I post to my calendar on the Friday before three-day weekends and the week between Christmas and New Year.

After mail from my boss and his boss, I do the other mail pretty much the same way.  The end result is an empty email basket and one list of tasks to do. I have only two priority levels: 1)doit, and 2)maybe do it someday. I just scan the doit and choose by judgment.

This is pretty much the email part of the GTD system.  There are other steps and techniques that don't deal directly with email.

References:

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen $9 paperback.
Read the first two or three chapters and then the summary pages of the rest of the chapters.  Then start.  I had planned to go parallel with my Franklin Planner for two months, but dropped the Franklin Planner after ten days.

Palm organizer - How David uses his    Item #: 60603    Disclose email address and download.
http://www.davidco.com/st...ee-Articles-p-1-c-254.php
I used a palm pilot and sync by cable to outlook 2003 until network security upgrades broke the palm pilot syncing.  Outlook Web access to the exchange server has replaced this for me. My blackberry is pretty much used as read only. I don't trust its syncing.

GTD and Outlook 2003 Item #: 10130 $15
http://www.davidco.com/st...Whitepapers-p-1-c-263.php
This paper has good advice on how to ignore most of the task fields, how to use notes and calendar with Allen's system. After following the advice of this paper for a couple of months I wrote macros for repetitive actions.  Allen and others sells  outlook add-ins, but the trial versions didn't work smoothly. Most of the free macros posted on the web don't match my work style.   

 

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Darwin
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« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2008, 06:56:14 AM »

e712 - wow! Your system cool and efficient and I've gleaned a number of pointers from it that I am going to start implementing (dragging e-mail to Tasks is a great tip - I've done it before, but never thought of it as an organizational and time management technique)  Thmbsup
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40hz
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« Reply #38 on: September 10, 2008, 02:34:44 PM »

This may be so obvious that I'm almost afraid to post it.

Print and file paper hardcopy of any email you absolutely can't afford to lose.


I have a group of folders in a file drawer next to my desk with all my client e-correspondence. I don't try to get too fancy with it. It's just a simple chronological file with the most recent item on top. I can usually find anything in that file in less than a minute despite the fact that there's about two reams worth of paper sitting there.

I'm only mentioning this because I'm amazed at the number of times I get called in to recover specific messages and attachments from a crashed server or desktop message store after a so-called "backup" turned out to be useless. I've also had it happen to me. That's why I never completely trust backups.

I have one client that has 3+ years worth of contracts, letters of agreement, and other legal stuff crucial to his business. They are all emails and attachments that exist nowhere other than his Outlook message store. I keep telling him to print out anything that he can't afford to lose. His reply is that he "hates to waste paper" and he has "everything backed up so there's really no need to print anything out."

I'm waiting for his panicky call some morning.  It's only a matter of time... Sad
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Darwin
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« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2008, 04:10:24 PM »

This may be so obvious that I'm almost afraid to post it.

Print and file paper hardcopy of any email you absolutely can't afford to lose.

No. It's excellent advice - a lesson that I learned the hardway...
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« Reply #40 on: September 10, 2008, 04:14:10 PM »

This may be so obvious that I'm almost afraid to post it.

Print and file paper hardcopy of any email you absolutely can't afford to lose.

No. It's excellent advice - a lesson that I learned the hardway...
Unless it's something that I can automate, I ain't doing it.  I'm against all this paper stuff.  But if it could be automated to where it prints all my important emails once a week, I'd be ok with that.
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« Reply #41 on: September 11, 2008, 12:13:41 AM »

This is my point of view too. I believe that if you've got sufficient redundancy (good backup system), these things (loose all emails/files etc.) should absolutely not happen.
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« Reply #42 on: September 11, 2008, 04:02:46 AM »

I've found a little utility called Poppy for Windows to be worth it's weight in gold. I can preview and optionally kill anything before it gets to my local mailbox, so only what I want gets downloaded. The real beauty of the thing is its simplicity. It's also the only tray/popup notifier I've ever used that works reliably and doesn't cause problems on my machine.

40hz,

You might like to compare Poppy with Magic Mail Monitor, though MMM's focus leans more towards deleting spam.  Seems reliable to me, on Win98 at that   Cool

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« Reply #43 on: September 11, 2008, 08:20:01 AM »

Aram and Armando - either you misunderstood 40hz or I did! I think that suggesting that any e-mail you can't afford to lose be printed and kept as hardcopy is excellent advice. My understanding of this is that particular e-mail messages, like the last message your grandmother sent to you before she passed away or a nasty exchange of e-mail with a colleague that you have filed a complaint against, be backed up in hard copy. Everything else trust to your electronic archive. As I said, I learned this the hardway as I have a bunch of e-mail black holes in my archive: everthing from 1994 t0 2000, everything from 2000 to 2006, everything from mid-2006 to November 2007... This includes every e-mail my grandmother ever wrote to me before she passed away in 2000  Sad Angry

So, I'm not advocating printing EVERYTHING, just those messages that you really want to keep.

NB It probably IS easier to keep everything now without printing to paper: in the past two years Hotmail, GMail and Yahoo have gone to astronomical limits on personal e-mail storage (after years of tiny limits) and harddrive capacity has gone through the roof while the cost has gone through the floor.
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« Reply #44 on: September 11, 2008, 08:52:35 AM »

I admit to being hypersensitive to the possibility of email loss. That means multiple email clients (and databases), each containing everything, and multiple backups in multiple locations. But I don't do paper.
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« Reply #45 on: September 11, 2008, 09:11:53 AM »

My solution is multiple backups, in mutiple formats, in multiple locations, of my e-mail in electronic format. I only have three e-mails printed out (these include a nasty e-mail exchange with my PhD supervisor, and a couple of receipts that related to refunds I requested). That's it.
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« Reply #46 on: September 11, 2008, 09:42:56 AM »

This is my point of view too. I believe that if you've got sufficient redundancy (good backup system), these things (loose all emails/files etc.) should absolutely not happen.

No argument from me if that's what works best for you. smiley I'm nowhere near being that confident.

I'd like believe in technology and systems. Unfortunately, I've got a little too much real-life experience with Murphy's Law to ever be a believer.

Lots of things shouldn't happen. But some still happen anyway. Grin

That's why I have redundant backups (local and remote) along with all the other techy fixin's. But I also have a hardcopy backup just in case. I'm not cynical - just experienced! Wink


Darwin:
Quote
So, I'm not advocating printing EVERYTHING, just those messages that you really want to keep.

Darwin's got it! That's exactly what I was saying.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2008, 09:56:11 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #47 on: September 11, 2008, 09:53:05 AM »

40hz,

You might like to compare Poppy with Magic Mail Monitor, though MMM's focus leans more towards deleting spam.  Seems reliable to me, on Win98 at that   Cool

Thanks for the heads-up on MMM. I did try it some time ago. That was one of the apps that caused problems with my machine. It does do some really nice things - and the interface is a lot nicer than Poppy's. But it also does a lot more than I want.

Besides, I have one of the best spam filters in the world already - ME!

I just eyeball the headers and zap what I don't want. My "filter" is cheap, fast, and portable. It comes with unlimited free updates, and knows exactly what I want to get rid of every single time. Quite amazing really. Almost uncanny! I'll have to see if I can patent myself someday.

(The only problem is that the only person that would ever want SpamZap-40hz is me... Grin)
« Last Edit: September 11, 2008, 09:57:16 AM by 40hz » Logged

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« Reply #48 on: September 11, 2008, 10:02:35 AM »

Quote
I'll have to see if I can patent myself someday
.

I think you are probably too late, you probably have been patented by now!
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A'Tuin

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« Reply #49 on: September 11, 2008, 10:26:00 AM »

Quote
I'll have to see if I can patent myself someday
.

I think you are probably too late, you probably have been patented by now!

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Don't you see? It's turtles all the way down!
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