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Suffering from Email Overload?

Nine tips for keeping emails under control (even while on vacation)

by Diane K. Danielson  |  2827 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

When Lindsey Pollak and I were writing The Savvy Gal’s Guide to Online Networking (or What Would Jane Austen Do?), we had to include the following section about dealing with email overload. I thought I’d run an excerpt because I noticed Nataly blogging about it, and if you read all the tips through to the end, there are some valuable hints to make sure that your winter vacations are not ruined by fears of email overload (see New York Times article about how email once ruined my vacation to the South of France! Yes, one does learn from experience).

How to Avoid Email Overload

With more and more people relying on email, it’s likely you’ll experience “email overload” at some point in time: whether it’s on a daily basis, or on a return from vacation. We confess that we, too, struggle with this and have used the following tips to keep our emails from overwhelming us.

1. Keep only one “screen-full” of emails in your inbox (i.e. no more than you can view at a glance to your inbox without scrolling). Yeah, right (insert sarcasm emoticon here). While we understand the logic of this, and try to act on each email by responding, filing in a folder, or deleting, we can’t keep up with the deluge. If you’re like us, we recommend setting aside an hour or two on Fridays to go through the past week’s worth of emails and respond, file or delete.

2. Develop a VIP system. When an email requires action and you can’t resolve it right then and there, create a system that will help remind you that you need to do something. You can move them to a special folder labeled VIP or Action, or, use a color coding system if your email program has one. That way you can quickly scan your emails for the important ones.

3. Create standard folders. While these will be unique to your work, we have a few general ones that save us lots of time:

-- Travel (File anything travel related here, including e-tickets, reservations, frequent flier numbers, etc.)

-- Directions (Save all directions to anywhere here, even the ones you send to other people… it saves lots of time retyping.)

-- Kudos (Anytime a client, your boss, or a friend says something in an email nice about you or your company, include it in this file. Then, before you have a review, or happen to be having a rough day, go through and read them to remind you that you are one savvy business gal!)

-- House or Condo (Include anything related to your home, home repairs, and so forth).

4. Write descriptive email headers. By including as much detail as possible in your header (for example, “Summary of 5.10.07 marketing meeting notes”), you and your colleagues will be able to find the right email quickly.

About the Author

Diane K. Danielson is the CEO of, a business network and career site for women and a blogger for

Read more by Diane K. Danielson

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