Mastering your productivity isn’t always about the latest apps or newest gadget but becoming more effective and efficient with the tools we already use. It’s time to evaluate 2 technologies you use every day and are probably getting out of control.
Email and Passwords.
Master Your Email with 3 Folders
Take back control of your inbox by creating 3 folders; Action, Hold, and Archive. Here’s how it works.
- Action – Every time you receive an email decide if you can respond in under 1 minute. If you can, then do. Otherwise drop it into the Action folder to be processed as soon as possible.
- Hold – If the email concerns an active situation but you are waiting for more info or a response it goes here.
- Archive – self explanatory.
That’s it. Simple but effective.
Mind over Matter
To keep your email from becoming a time drain remember
- Check email 2-3 times a day and turn the notifications off. (More difficult in the smartphone error but learn to ignore the beep and stay on task)
- Don’t get bogged down – Do, Defer, Delegate
- Take your inbox to Zero everytime. It’s called an inbox for a reason.
Presort your Email with Rules
If you want to really boost your email productivity then presort your email with rules. Rules, also called filters, are ways to process your messages automatically and take action based on your defined criteria.
Some examples from my own inbox:
- If email begins with FW or FWD then Mark it as Read. Prevents new mail notifications.
- If email is sent to a particular distribution group or custom address then file in a separate folder.
- If email contains the word “XYZ” automatically label “XYZ”
The possibilities are endless and it will save your hours of time. You can use rules in email clients like Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird, and Gmail has a rules feature built in. (I know I sound like a Google fanboy after my gushing over Google Calendar but Gmail is hands down the best webmail on the planet.)
Links to get you started:
- Configure Rules in Microsoft Outlook
- Configure Filters in Mozilla Thunderbird
- Configure Filters in Gmail
Bonus Tip: If you use Gmail here is a killer tip. Use custom addresses for newsletter subscriptions by adding a + to the end of your gmail address and some custom text. For example, if firstname.lastname@example.org wanted to signup for Groupon he could use email@example.com. The email gets delivered to the same inbox but now you can use a filter that looks for that address.
Tired of remembering all those passwords? Every site in the world wants you to create an account these days and its extremely important you are using secure and unique passwords for different sites but who can keep up with all of them?
LastPass is a Password Manager that saves your usernames and passwords so you don’t have to remember them. It works across multiple browsers and multiple computers and it’s FREE. They do offer a premium version for $12 a year that includes access to their mobile apps, I pay for it and love it but for most of you the free account is all you need.
RoboForm is more widely known and a great product from all reports but it costs more and LastPass does everything I need.
LastPass includes a form filler and an excellent secure notes function. Did I mention its FREE? Go sign up.
- Master your email with Action, Hold, & Archive Folders.
- Use filters and custom addresses to presort messages.
- Use Lastpass to manage your passwords and accounts.
I hope these tips helps simplify your life online and reclaim some of the time you spend managing your online life.