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Ten Tips for Getting Out From Under Your E-Mail

August 11, 2008

How can a hapless e-mail addict wriggle out from under the weight of a bulging in-box? Here are some tips from specialists:

– Turn off the alert noise. That can help you escape the addictive cycle of reflexively seeing whether something interesting came in then and creating more messages by hitting the “send” button.

– Limit the number of times per day you check your e-mail. “Whether it’s once an hour or once a day – whatever works for you – check e-mails at intervals as opposed to constantly reacting,” says Deva Hazarika, vice president of Information Overload Research Group.

– Use clear, informative subject lines. “Hey” as the subject requires that someone open up the e-mail to even know how to prioritize the message. But “4:00 meeting canceled” can be easily digested.

– Clear your in box frequently, and file e-mails into appropriate folders.

– Do not create too many folders. A 2000 study found that the more folders users had, the less efficient message storage and retrieval became.

– Meet with your co-workers to discuss ways in which e-mail traffic can be reduced for everyone in your work group. That may mean avoiding sending nonessential messages, not sending “OK, thanks” notes that simply acknowledge receipt of a message, picking up the phone or walking to a co-worker’s cubicle when a subject is best handled in a conversation.

– Respect your co-workers’ time and attention. Remember that notes sent to them may distract them from important tasks.

– Use e-mail as a to-do list. This may seem counterintuituive, but according to a 2006 study at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, e-mail management techniques such as this “may moderate the relationship between e-mail volume and feelings of e-mail overload.” In other words, it won’t directly help your e-mail problem, but it will create feelings of control.

– Don’t publish your complete e-mail address on blogs and other Web pages. Instead of yournameserver.com, use yourname “at” server.com or yourname @ server.com. That way, robots that crawl the Web looking for e-mail addresses to spam won’t detect you – at least until they figure out that people are using “at” or @.

– If all else fails, consider declaring e-mail bankruptcy. conquer the beast

Hapless e-mail addicts, here are some tips from specialists:

Turn off the alert noise. That can help you escape the addictive cycle of reflexively seeing whether something interesting came in and then creating more messages by hitting the “send” button.

Limit the number of times per day you check your e-mail. “Whether it’s once an hour or once a day, whatever works for you, check e- mails at intervals as opposed to constantly reacting,” said Deva Hazarika, vice president of Information Overload Research Group.

Use clear, informative subject lines. “Hey” as the subject requires that someone open up the e-mail to even know how to prioritize the message. But “4:00 meeting canceled” can be easily digested.

Clear your inbox frequently, and file e-mails into appropriate folders.

Respect your co-workers’ time and attention. Remember that notes sent to them may distract them from important tasks.

Don’t publish your complete e-mail address on blogs and other Web pages. Instead of yourname@server.com, use yourname “at” server.com or yourname (at) server.com.

If all else fails, consider declaring “e-mail bankruptcy.” That’s what one Stanford professor did.

(c) 2008 Virginian – Pilot. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.




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