When I talk to friends, clients, and colleagues, a common theme is that they are overwhelmed and overstressed. I have to admit that I do fall into that category too at times. It has been one of my goals to change that this year. Let’s start with email today
For those of us in client-facing roles who work with global stakeholders, we often end up with more email than we can manage. Those of you who use Gmail for your personal email have some options and I am sure Outlook and other email programs have similar features. Job seekers need email more than ever before. You are more likely to hear back via email for an online job application than any other method. When hiring managers can’t reach you by phone, they are likely to send an email.
1. Let your email program do some of the work
Use the email separation boxes: Primary, Social, Updates, and Forums to separate your important emails from other items. But then make it a habit of deleting unread ones from lists you don’t want to read.
If you are subscribed to things that you no longer need and you know you actually did subscribe, unsubscribe. We all think we want to know more about something and then we find out we don’t care. When you eliminate unnecessary emails, you also eliminate the potential of you being hacked if they would be hacked.
3. Kill that old email
Do you have an email you no longer use? Eliminate it. A common theme when someone is hacked is that it comes from an infrequently used email. It is easier to hack someone who isn’t regularly using it. It usually takes longer for you to figure out that you have been hacked if you never use the account.
4. Label your emails
After you separate your emails, use the labeling system in your email program to tag the emails. Gmail is color-coded. I label each client file with the client name and then I put it as a subfile under the year label. Like: 2014 Clients: John Smith.
5. Filter your emails
Use your filters to take the above step further. I filter incoming messages from frequent emails by using the filter to Apply their name or the topic to that email. Then when a new email comes in, it already has their label on it.
6. Set up a High Priority Label and folder
Create specific labels for high priority items. I created a Critical Response label and started it with 1 111 so that I could find it at the top of my list. (I have many sub email folders.)
7. Set up a reading label and folder
Maybe you really would like to read more of your informational emails. I created a Design Resumes reading folder which is similar: 1 111 Design Resumes reading so that I could get the things I really want to read out of my Primary inbox. This lets me put career information and blogs that I really want to read aside but pick it up when I have a little time. If you use a tablet, you can go to that folder when you are waiting for someone and catch up on your reading.
The health benefits of gaining control
Email may seem like such a little thing to gain control of compared to the rest of your life. But it is one place to start. For me, that overflowing inbox (I had 2000 emails in my primary box and at one point, over 1000 were unread) was starting to make me crazy. I was afraid I was missing critical emails. If you are constantly feeling stressed, it isn’t good for you or the people around you. If you gradually eliminate problem areas, you will feel more confident. The added plus of gaining control of your email is that you won’t miss the important one from your next job offer or the important project at work.
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