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How do you keep your head above water when you're drowning in emails?
Thread poster: philgoddard

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Mar 8, 2016

I use Yahoo webmail, but I'm sure this issue applies to most providers, and I don't want to switch to a different company.

I don't know about you, but I find it increasingly difficult to manage the sheer volume of incoming and outgoing emails. It can be hard to find specific messages - the search facility is slow, and fails to find messages that I know are there - and I often get distracted when one email comes in while I'm dealing with another. This makes me less efficient as a business, and sometimes I fail to answer emails because they slip down the list so quickly.

I'm talking about mostly business-related messages, and my spam filter works well.

What are your pet solutions to this problem? Do you have specific procedures for dealing with emails, or do you use specific software?



[Edited at 2016-03-08 17:45 GMT]


 

Radian Yazynin  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:10
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
The Bat! Mar 8, 2016

This mail client is among the most sophisticated yet easy-to-use ones. Filters, event processing, different macros.

 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Move to a better webmail Mar 8, 2016

philgoddard wrote:
What are your pet solutions to this problem? Do you have specific procedures for dealing with emails, or do you use specific software?

I use Fastmail for about $40 a year (forget exact amount). I use it with my company domain and also use another account for my private email. Because it's webmail I can access it anywhere, which is something I find much more useful than I thought. Until I switched to Fastmail I had been a dedicated Outlook user since that first came out and used to think nothing could beat a desktop mail app.

Fastmail has a nice clean interface that's faster than Gmail (and Yahoo, from what I remember). Unlike Google, Fastmail is not reading your business email so that it can target you with ads. You can use keyboard shortcuts for everything.

Initially I filed everything into folders (Fastmail has a nice rules system) but I stopped doing that because search is quick enough that I can use it ad hoc to find things. Of course you can set up filters as well. Fastmail has been around for more than a decade so the company has a track record and so far has been reliable.

In terms of organisation the key function for me (and this is of course not unique to Fastmail) is the pinning button, which just pins a mail to the top of the list until I get round to it.

So that's how I do it.

Regards
Dan


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Pinning! Mar 8, 2016

I'd never thought of that before.

 

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Not too much of a problem... Mar 8, 2016

I have my email accounts (Hotmail and Gmail) open all the time I am working and also get mobile phone notifications, so I see important stuff pretty much as soon as it comes in and can decide whether to respond right away or not. Anything else I delete immediately.

I flag anything related to ongoing or pending jobs so they are always at the top of the list. When I deliver the job, I unflag the mail.

I have folders for information I need to keep for clients or agencies and others for registration details etc.

I don't delete any mails related to jobs I have done...they stay in my account indefinitely. If I'm looking for something I just search for the sender/recipient and use the arrow keys to go through them. I usually know the approximate date of what I'm looking for.


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Another one for The Bat! Mar 8, 2016

I have been using The Bat for some years now and am very happy about it. It is of course a client-based software, i.e. you download messages to your computer instead of keeping them on the server. The good point is that it allows for ultra-fast searches even in the text of emails, it is very reliable (no glitch whatsoever in so many years) and allows you to move emails in folders really fast. It also lets you customize your email formats very easily and is rather intuitive. When it comes to moving files to another computer, it is as simple as copying them over and everything works with little configuration.

In general I am not that in favour of hosted email. I handle about 50-60 emails a day with many different customers and I think it would be too slow for me to handle them in a hosted solution and do searches over the Internet.

I have tried IMAP email with The Bat and it also worked well, but in a way I prefer good old POP email as it allows me to keep my ISP's email server nice and simple. I combine The Bat with Firetrust Mailwasher, which helps me clean up my inbox before email is even downloaded and report spam to spam blacklists.


 

Michael Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Google Apps for Work! Mar 8, 2016

philgoddard wrote:

I use Yahoo webmail, but I'm sure this issue applies to most providers, and I don't want to switch to a different company.

I don't know about you, but I find it increasingly difficult to manage the sheer volume of incoming and outgoing emails. It can be hard to find specific messages - the search facility is slow, and fails to find messages that I know are there - and I often get distracted when one email comes in while I'm dealing with another. This makes me less efficient as a business, and sometimes I fail to answer emails because they slip down the list so quickly.

I'm talking about mostly business-related messages, and my spam filter works well.

What are your pet solutions to this problem? Do you have specific procedures for dealing with emails, or do you use specific software?



[Edited at 2016-03-08 17:45 GMT]


I use a paid Gmail account, via "Google Apps for Work" (see: https://apps.google.com/ ). It's basically Gmail, but without the ads, and with your own domain name (if you want). Personally, I love the Gmail interface, and find it lighting fast, and great for organising things, and its labels system is a godsend.

I split my inbox into two tabs, using Gmails relatively new "Priority inbox" system (https://support.google.com/mail/answer/186531?hl=en ):
1. "Primary" (for important stuff), and
2. "Forums" (for all the mailing lists, advertising, etc.).

I try to ensure that Primary never gets too full, so it's entire contents is always visible on one page. If I open an email and realise that I will need to attend to it later that day, or maybe tomorrow, I simply mark it as Unread, which switches it back to bold in the inbox list so it stands out as requiring further action. this way, everything that needs my attention is usually bold and in my Primary inbox tab. I also use the stars system to further differentiate emails in the Primary tab.

I also use Gmail's great coloured Labels system. I assign a special coloured label to every client or important topic, and create an associated filter so every time a new email from this client or topic enters my inbox, it automatically gets labelled and therefore stands out.

Each currently active job also gets a special bright red label: "Due Monday", "Due Tuesday", etc.

In short, I am extremely happy with my system, and always have a relatively short list of clearly identified emails in my Primary inbox.

Michael

PS: I tried The Bat (and a few other desktop-based solutions), but think that they are way more trouble than they are worth.


[Edited at 2016-03-08 19:41 GMT]


 

Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2014)
English to German
I am happy with Yahoo mail Mar 8, 2016

I use yahoo, I can see when messages come in, I have folders I file client messages away when a project is completed, what is not needed I delete, even my private stuff is coming into the same mail box.

If I am writing an e-mail and think something important has just come in then the half written mail goes automatically in the draft folder if I click on the new mail.

I did think of changing to a more professional e-mail address? But as the whole world and sundry has this address it might be complicated unless there is some simple way of doing this.

Otherwise I am happy with yahoo.


 

Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:10
Romanian to English
+ ...
Thunderbird and client subfolders Mar 8, 2016

philgoddard wrote:
I'm talking about mostly business-related messages, and my spam filter works well.
What are your pet solutions to this problem? Do you have specific procedures for dealing with emails, or do you use specific software?


I use Thunderbird (but any other e-mail application will do) and this is my system which has served me well for fifteen years now:

I organize my e-mails into the following folders: major clients (each one has a separate subfolder), irregular clients (larger ones have subfolders), general job opportunities, personal.
I keep current e-mails in my Inbox and everything that has already been delivered is moved to the client subfolders. I mark e-mails that have deadlines tomorrow in a way or another (color them red, flag them, etc.), those with deadlines on the day after tomorrow with another color, etc. After I finish a job (delivered, recorded on my accounting file, job folder moved from desktop to another partition), I remove the color and move the e-mail to the client folder.

Thunderbird also has an add-on to create an additional column where I can enter free text. I use it to record the exact deadlines (e.g. 29 Feb 2:00 pm), although I managed to educate most of my clients to state their deadlines and approx. quantity in the subject line.

So at any given time, I only see e-mails in my Inbox folder that still require some action, either work or personal. Whenever I open my Inbox, I can easily see the projects I have to deliver on that day, as well as those I will work on that week. When I receive a new inquiry, it's easy to see when it would be feasible. If the inquiry turns into a real purchase order, I mark it appropriately as described above.


[Edited at 2016-03-08 20:06 GMT]


 

Doan Quang  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 08:10
Member
English to Vietnamese
Google Apps for Work + Outlook Mar 9, 2016

Michael J.W. Beijer wrote:

I use a paid Gmail account, via "Google Apps for Work" (see: https://apps.google.com/ ). It's basically Gmail, but without the ads, and with your own domain name (if you want). Personally, I love the Gmail interface, and find it lighting fast, and great for organising things, and its labels system is a godsend.


I use Google Apps for Work with my own domain name and my inbox is organised by clients in the same way with translation folder in the hard drive.

This works well with Outlook and I am happy with the system.


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:40
English to Hindi
+ ...
Different emails ids for different purposes Mar 9, 2016

I use Gmail and use the label function to sort and track the important emails. Earlier I never used to delete any emails, but recently I began to approach the 15 GB limit of Gmail storage and had to delete half of my old emails to create space.

Now I have learned the virtue of cleaning up unwanted emails without procrastination.

But I agree, keeping up with the email avalanche is becoming more and more a problem.

Have you tried keeping more than one email id for different function? For example, my paypal email id is different from my general email id. I also have another email id which I use for exchanging emails with friends and family. This brings about a slight reduction in the number of emails I receive on my business email account (gmail).


 

Jan Truper
Germany
Local time: 03:10
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Multiple e-mail addresses Mar 9, 2016

I have 3 e-mail addresses, which I use to strictly divide between business / personal / other mail.
On the business e-mail side, I then use color flagging to mark different e-mails (open projects = yellow, must answer soon = red, POs = blue, etc.)


 

Rolf Keller
Germany
Local time: 03:10
English to German
Why web mail anyway? Mar 9, 2016

philgoddard wrote:

I use Yahoo webmail, but I'm sure this issue applies to most providers, and I don't want to switch to a different company.


Many (all?) providers offer web mail as well as "real" mail. Yahoo provides both, anyway . Why do you use web mail instead of a mail client application (MS Outlook, The Bat, ...)?

Web mail targets grandmothers & grandfathers who ignore the 'P' in 'PC' but it doesn't target entrepreneurs.

Web mail is ok, if you have no PC, no mobile phone etc. handy but only an Internet café.


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:10
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Procedure Mar 9, 2016

philgoddard wrote:

Do you have specific procedures for dealing with emails, or do you use specific software?



In Apple Mail you can create Rules that will filter incoming mail into any number of folders/subfolders you want. I have about 40. One of them is "Translation clients" (divided into subfolders for each client). If anything comes in and is filtered to one of those folders, a special "bell" sound rings (another thing you can do with Apple Mail).

All my other emails go into folders of their own. So I don't have particular problems about too many emails, except yesterday when there was a problem with my provider's mail server, which kept resending me the same 150 emails over and over again even after i deleted them. Fortunately they seem to have fixed the problem today.

I keep things clean at the server end by telling it to delete all emails from itself, if I delete them at my end.

[Edited at 2016-03-09 08:33 GMT]


 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:10
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
Thunderbird & Lightning Mar 9, 2016

Hi Phil
I use Thunderbird & Lightning which is a great way to keep mail and jobs/tasks organized with deadlines, plus there's a calendar.

Yesterday I got 20 mails, 7 the day before, all job related.
I answer mails as soon as I get them or leave them unopened so I still have "1 unread mail" in my inbox.
I get maybe 1/3 spam mails a week and I don't really use any special filter.

Keep spam at bay by asking people who send mass mails to use the Bcc: box to hide the addresses instead of To: Otherwise ask to be removed from their mailing list.

Any Email links on forums like Proz should be in the format "mailto:emailadddress" as this keeps most spam engines in the dark apparently. If your link is just your emailadddress without mailto: they'll pick it up easily.

Unsubscribe from all mailing lists including forum notifications, etc.

Have 2 mails, one for just work and the other for friends, registering on web sites to buy stuff, make sure you uncheck the "send me spam" box.

Stop anyone using both addresses sending 2 duplicate mails.

If a mail address becomes too prone to spam I just dump it and use a new one.

If too much job mail = too much work, I'd raise rates.


 
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