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17 Jan

Rules and filters make the heavy email-load lighter

Datum: 2024-01-17 11:40
A person is using a laptop with illustrated envelopes floating around it, symbolizing email communication.

I often ask the audi­ence at my lec­tures if they receive a lot of emails and I vir­tu­al­ly always get a loud Yes!” shout­ed back at me, accom­pa­nied by sighs and var­i­ous excla­ma­tions of fatigue.

When we lat­er touch on how many emails a lot” actu­al­ly con­sti­tutes, it can range from twen­ty per day” to over a hun­dred”. But, regard­less of the actu­al num­ber that each indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ences as over­whelm­ing, most find it chal­leng­ing to deal with and process this con­tin­u­ous stream of incom­ing correspondence.

For you who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, this post is also avail­able as an episode of the Done!” pod­cast:

Small effort, great effect

No mat­ter our sit­u­a­tion, there is at least one thing we can do to light­en the load and make pro­cess­ing all these emails eas­i­er. It may be small, but that is alright because when it comes to struc­ture the small­est thing can have a great effect since the change we make con­cerns how we work through­out our entire work­day, and hence influ­ences us more than we might think.

Help is close at hand

The one who receives a lot of emails can be assist­ed in pro­cess­ing many of them, at least part­ly, by using rules or fil­ters (the func­tion has dif­fer­ent names in dif­fer­ent email clients). When acti­vat­ing a rule, the email tool will screen the incom­ing emails and do at least a small part of the work for us.

You can, for instance, ask the email­ing pro­gram to do the fol­low­ing automatically:

  • send all emails of a cer­tain kind to a par­tic­u­lar folder
  • delete the emails you are not inter­est­ed in, but which come from an address that also sends emails you real­ly want to receive
  • change the col­or of the text in the sub­ject line if the email con­cerns a spe­cif­ic topic
  • sig­nal with a ping” and a desk­top noti­fi­ca­tion if you get an email con­tain­ing a par­tic­u­lar word — even if you have turned off the gen­er­al noti­fi­ca­tions sig­nal­ing new emails
  • label the email with a spe­cif­ic label if it comes from a par­tic­u­lar person
  • respond auto­mat­i­cal­ly with a cer­tain text when the sub­ject line con­tains a par­tic­u­lar phrase
  • … and more

What you can be helped with depends on what email­ing pro­gram you use.

Do this

If you have not used rules or fil­ters for your emails before, have a go and try it. It is easy to set up and use. This is how to do it in:

If you are unsure of what you could cre­ate rules for, try think­ing of some­thing you want the email pro­gram to do with the emails you receive from me — or per­haps from one of your colleagues.

If you are already an avid user of rules and fil­ters, you could take anoth­er look at the func­tion again since there are new aspects and fea­tures added all the time and per­haps your par­tic­u­lar tool has added some­thing new you are yet unaware of.

Fin­ish pro­cess­ing emails faster

If you set rules and fil­ters for your email­ing tool it will ease some of the load emails bur­den you with dai­ly. Per­haps the change will not be great for some, but if you receive a great num­ber of emails the relief will be quite notice­able and this trick will do you a lot of good.

What is your trick?

What rules and fil­ters do you use to make pro­cess­ing emails eas­i­er? Share your best prac­tices with me, please!

(But, what are you to do about the inbox if it’s full already now, when you just got back from your Christ­mas break?)

There's more!

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If you want more tips on how to create good structure at work, there are many ways to get that from me - in podcasts, videos, books, talks and other formats.

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