Join Dave Crenshaw for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating email rules or filters, part of Time Management Fundamentals.
- Before I walk you through how to process email, I need to take a moment and show you how to set up email filters, sometimes referred to as rules. Email filters, or rules, are automatic features that deal with certain emails when they come in. The most basic example of this is a coupon email from your favorite business. Many people are afraid to sign up for coupons because they're worried that it's going to clog up their email inbox. I'll show you what I do and why I sign up for every coupon site for vendors that I frequent regularly, and why it doesn't affect my inbox at all.
Bear in mind that setting up filters may be easier to do on a desktop or full browser email client, as some mobile clients may not support these features. But, once set up, they should work for wherever you're viewing email. Here, we have a coupon from a local pizza place. I like to order pizza from them. And I'd like to be able to get coupons that I use regularly. So, what I'll do on this email, is I'll click on the drop down menu on the email, and select Filter Messages Like This.
I can also create filters by highlighting an email, and clicking on the More button. You'll see a popup window where I can create a wide variety of different rules for an email. If I get an email from a certain email address, if it's sent to a certain email account, if it has certain words in the subject, and so on. There are more advanced options. But really, all we need is the most simple kind of rule, what email address did it come from? I'll select the rule if I get an email from the pizza place, and I'm going to skip the inbox or, archive it.
This means I'll never see this type of email appear in my inbox. Now, I want to apply a label. Here it's okay to create a new label, or if you're using a program other than Gmail, a new folder other than Archive. I'll do this for one reason: this is automatic filing. It requires no future effort on my part. Also, using a separate, pre-sorted folder saves time by making it easy for me to find these rule based emails when I need them again.
So, I'm going to create a label called Coupons. I'll check Also Apply Filter to Matching Messages to make sure it catches anything that may be in my inbox, and then click Create Filter. It searches the email inbox, archives any applicable messages, and applies the Coupons label I created. This makes it very, very easy for me in the future if I ever need to buy something. I can just click on the Coupons folder, or I can search for the email by the pizza company, and find it very quickly to get the discounts or the best deals.
You can apply these same kinds of rules for all sorts of informational emails that you get, such as newsletters and software updates. I once worked with a mortgage company, that would get rate updates multiple times throughout the day. So we created a rule to put any email like that into a Daily Rate Update folder. It freed up the inbox, but still gave them instant access to the information when they needed it. Now, an important caution. Avoid setting a rule for an email where you may have to process it manually ever.
Otherwise, you may accidentally create another email gathering point. The only place you should ever need to check email is your inbox. Let me give you an example. Let's say your favorite aunt has the habit of sending you funny pictures and stories a lot. Be careful about creating a rule for her, because if she does send you something, and it does have actionable information, such as a family get together, then you may miss out on it. Remember, when you set a rule for an email, you're telling the computer to automatically answer all of the "what, when, where" processing questions for you.
What's the next step? Store the email. When will it be done? Right now. Where is its home? The folder. It handles all of that automatically for you, so be cautious. Filters and rules, when used properly, can save you valuable time and make processing even easier.
Learn how to get more done in the shortest time possible and avoid the obstacles and distractions that can get in the way of good time management. Dave gives practical strategies for increasing productivity in three main areas: developing habits to be more organized and reducing clutter in your workspace; staying mentally on task and eliminate the to-dos you have floating in your head; and developing a time budget to get the most done during your workday and focus on your most valuable activities.
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- Finding your productivity style and motivation
- Understanding the principles of time management
- Avoiding the pitfalls of multitasking
- Narrowing your gathering points
- Consolidating email and voicemail accounts
- Practicing mind-clearing techniques
- Choosing and using calendar software
- Saying no with tact
- Mastering the what, when, where processing system
- Processing email vs. checking email
- Maintaining productivity gains