War on Your Inbox

Ciber Cafe

If time is money, you can become very wealthy by eliminating time wasters.  One of the biggest black holes for time is e-mail.  E-mail is one of the greatest communication tools ever invented and one of the biggest distractions in the world.  I have declared war on my inbox to have a little more time wealth in my life.

Use the Right E-Mail System for You

I have used many e-mail systems in the past.  From the corporate Outlook inbox to old school AOL, I have tried them all.  I have killed off my AOL.  I have ended my use of Hotmail.  I have consolidated everything to stream into a single Gmail inbox.

The first step to declaring war on your inbox is to use the best e-mail management system available.  To win the war in the long haul, you need all e-mail to consolidate into one view.  I only know of two tools that can effectively help you manage that: Gmail and Outlook.  Both Gmail and Outlook allow you to send and receive messages from multiple addresses using one interface.  Both also allow you to use labels, filters, and follow-up markers to effectively manage the messages that come in.

I use Outlook at work and Gmail at home.  Because I am more of a Gmail expert, and I am a huge Gmail fan, I will continue with a Gmail tutorial for the rest of the post.  Sorry Microsoft.

Setup Phase One – Forwarders

At last count, I have about fifteen e-mail addresses.  I have my Gmail, two alumni .edu addresses, alternate Google accounts, and five websites each with two or more addresses.  That is a lot of e-mail.  I have every single one set to forward to my central Gmail account.

Setting a forwarder for an account is easy.  If you are not the domain owner, your e-mail host most likely allows you to forward every message to another address.  Set each inbox to forward to your central Gmail account.

If you do own the domain, use the hosting panels, such as CPanel, to setup forwarders.  When you set the new address, such as my @narrowbridge.net addresses, do not create a new inbox.  Instead, set it as a forwarder to go to your central Gmail account.  If you want every e-mail sent to that domain to forward to your Gmail, be sure to set it as a “catch all” account.

Setup Phase Two – From Address Setup

It may take a few hours for all of the forwarders to kick in, but once everything is set you are almost on auto-pilot.  Before you can move on, though, you have to be able to send e-mail from your alternate addresses, not just your Gmail.  Lucky for us, Gmail makes it easy to do.

Click on “Settings” at the top of the Gmail screen and open the “Accounts and Import” tab.  You can use the import function to download mail from other addresses to your Gmail account.  Now, however, you want to focus on the accounts side.

Under the “Send Mail As” section, click on the “Send mail from another address” button.  When you do so, you will be prompted to enter you e-mail address that you want to send from.  After a quick authentication process, you will be able to choose the second address in a drop down box from the new message screen.

Repeat the “Send mail from another address” process until you have each address available in your drop down box.

Setup Phase Three – Priority Inbox

Gmail now offers users a priority inbox view.  To turn it on, click on settings and navigate to the priority inbox tab.  The bottom option will allow you to turn the priority inbox on.  Make sure to tweak the settings so the layout works best for you.

Inbox War

Now you have all of the tools in place to win the war.  Follow a simple set of guidelines to win the war.

  1. Unsubscribe from e-mail lists you don’t get value from religiously.  If you have trouble with this, Unsubscribe.com has a great tool to help if you use Firefox, Chrome, or Safari at home.
  2. Hit the spam button as appropriate every time.  Gmail is smart and will send crap to the spam folder with no intervention.
  3. Archive messages when you are done with them.  Do not leave mail in your inbox forever.  If you do not have an outstanding action item from that message, archive it.  It is not deleted, so you can always find it again using Gmail search.
  4. Deal with messages right away.  If it sits in your inbox for days, it is not that important.  Either get around to it right away or archive it.  Don’t procrastinate.

The Result

A clean inbox.  I have sixteen e-mails in my inbox right now.  Two will be archived tonight when I fix the situation.  One is a blog comment that I will respond to by the end of the day.  The others are about upcoming events or are not that important.  I need to follow my own advice and respond or archive right away.

Remember, you don’t have to answer everyone.  You don’t have to read crappy messages with subjects like “FW: FW: Forward: FW: LOL YOU HAVE TO READ THIS!!!  PASS ON TO TEN FRIENDS OR ELSE!!!”  I can almost guarantee you that message is a waste of time.

Eliminate waste.  Gain time.  Become wealthy.

4 thoughts on “War on Your Inbox”

  1. I have all of my inboxes downloaded into Outlook on my laptop. works for me! 🙂
    My recent post February 1 Check In

    1. Eric - Narrow Bridge

      I use Outlook at work and Gmail everywhere else. It is linked on all of my (3) laptops and my Droid. I can't live without it.

  2. Eric - Narrow Bridge

    This was not too bad to set up. I set it up each time I get a new e-mail set, so it is just a few minutes at a time.

    I do get a gazillion e-mails per day, but I am a huge proponent of either dealing with it, deleting it, or un-subscribing right away.

  3. Eric - Narrow Bridge

    Whatever is left in my inbox is a to do list, but I now have the Taskforce plugin for Gmail in Chrome which takes care of that for me.

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