How much time will these five tips save you?…

Quickly manage your email with these five tips.

TNPC Newsletter
by Dan Butler

09 November, 2006


Welcome to another issue of TNPC. Helping you be more productive
on and off your computer.

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First go read last weeks issue at the blog:

We started a new drawing last week and are still taking entries
to the next drawing. Prizes announced next week. Go here to enter:

Note: to enter the drawing requires your mailing address. I am
the only one who sees that address and it will only be used to
send your prize. I collect the information up front to save us
having to bounce back and forth if you win. Go enter the drawing
if you haven’t already.

Recently I emphasized how a 2% improvement in your productivity
will compound quickly. Assuming you work eight hours a day 2% of
your time is about ten minutes. Can you save 10 minutes over a
month? I’m sure you can. Follow the five tips in this weeks
article and you will save far more than ten minutes.

The mention of typing trainers last issue really struck a chord.
I’ve ask Dick Ainsworth, author of Ainsworth Typing Trainer, if
he will get on the phone and have a chat about
typing/keyboarding in general. We will also talk about trends in
computing and RSI pain. Look for an announcement soon.

Look for teleconferences to make up a larger part of the
offerings here from TNPC. Some will be free. Depends on the
circumstances. I want to share these resources as much as
possible with you. The more of you that participate the lower
the cost we can all have. Even putting a “free” teleconference
on with free resources has a cost associated. So watch for more
on the teleconference front.

*5 Tips for Quickly Managing Your Email*

The spam load coming in to the TNPC underground labs has been
particularly heavy the past few weeks. The upcoming holidays may
affect that. It may be heavy for you too. I notice spam comes in
waves. It will be heavy for a while then taper back off.

If you’ve been with me for very long, you know I recommend you
use a Bayesian based filter for fighting spam. Bayesian has
proven very effective in catching the unwanted emails and you do
not have to update every time the spammers change their tactics.
The good news is the better Bayesian filters are free. Mozilla
Thunderbird and Eudora have a fine filter built in. If you use
other mail programs look for a Bayesian based filter. Two of my
favorites are PopFile and K9. Fortunately they are both free and
both work with any email program.

—- Tip 1 —-
Use a Bayesian Filter

I read a little book this week and it reminded me of a habit I
used years ago to save lots of time and frustration. What is the
tip? Only read your email three times a day. The book
recommended four times a day but I find three times a day best.
First thing in the morning, just after lunch, one hour before
leaving for the day. Those three times worked the best for me.

I used to check the email before lunch. But often found items
that I would start working on immediately. Worse I would find my
lunch time consumed thinking about what I found. So check the
email after lunch.

Check your email about one hour before you go home for the day.
Checking one hour before gives you enough time to deal with any
last minute task that can’t wait. If you wait until you are
going home that last minute task becomes really last minute. You
stay late finishing it and end up frustrated and rushed during
the time you should be unwinding and slowing down.

—- Tip 2 —-
Only check your email at a few set times a day

So how do you develop this habit? It isn’t easy. The first step
is don’t leave your email open all day. Just open it the three
times you need to check. Most computers now come with a
Scheduler. Set the scheduler to open your email program at the
three times you need. Then you can forget about it.

In Windows XP and 2000 you find the scheduler under Start /
Programs / Accessories / System Tools. Set a scheduled task to
launch your email those three times. If you already have the
program running it should come to front. Some programs may
launch a second copy so watch for that.

You may want to set the “after lunch” check to 15 minutes after
you return from lunch. This gives you a few minutes to settle in
and check other things before diving into your email.

—- Tip 3 —-
Use a scheduler to launch your email program

The fourth tip will probably save you the most time. It’s coming
up right after this break…

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In quickly dealing with your spam, you should go through your
spam folder last. Why? Keep your good mental processing for your
best mail. Your friends and other correspondents deserve that.
After you have handled your good email take a look through the
spam folder.

—- Tip 4 —-
Deal with legitimate important mail first. Spam last

Here is my procedure for quickly dealing with the spam I receive:

1. Let the Bayesian filter identify spam
2. Filter the identified spam to a folder
3. Sort the spam folder by Subject Line.
4. Scan the folder for non-spam email

I find scanning by subject line the easiest way to identify any
good mail from spam. Once you train your Bayesian filter there
will only be a few good mail so the scan goes quickly. For
reference it takes me about three minutes to scan 1,000 spam.
That includes dealing with any false positives.

—- Tip 5 —-
Before you scan the folder turn off your Preview window. That
way you do not even have to look at any of the spam.

You will quickly learn to recognize spam in a matter of seconds.
When you find a good email in the spam train it on the spot then
copy it to your inbox. How do you train the email? Depends on
which filter you are using. In Thunderbird all you have to do is
click the junk icon.

Use these tips and get a better handle on your email starting