My faithful readers have asked for more tips to help them stem the inexorable tide of e-mails.
The following hints won’t stem the tide, but suggest what you can do to the deposited flood.
*Strap on your heavy duty protective gear, select your biggest, sharpest scythe, and plunge to the bottom, the very bottom, the first item (i.e. the oldest) of your InBox. Start wielding your scythe. If item #1 has been lurking at the bottom this long, does it really need any attention now? I thought not: weeessssh, snick! Off with its head! Continue in this mode, until you can begin to see daylight in the mid-section of your Box. Wipe off your scythe blade, and have a cup of coffee. Now back to the task.
- Simply delete mail without even opening it. I have friends who love to share their political opinions, or hoary old jokes : I press that magic button marked DELETE. Best button on the keyboard, wisely used.
- Under no circumstances take part in those irritating On-line Scrabble e-mails : they are total time wasters. You know what to do: press the magic button!
- The heart-rending appeals for lost kids, dying patients, starving animals: harden your heart, most are phishing scams: Magic Button – yes, again!
- Petitions: I delete them instantly. I read an article, written by a reliable source, that conclusively proved the info goes nowhere and changes nothing.
- I enjoy gorgeous photography, clever puns, or informative articles sent to me by friends scattered around the globe, but I only send a very short one or two line acknowledgement if the content is superlative or warrants a comment. Not every mail needs a response. I enjoy and delete. Occasionally I forward items, but I’m trying to forward only the crème de la crème this year.
- Buy a cheap kitchen timer. I bought a boring white mechanical timer, and it was a well spent R27.00 . Set it for half an hour, and attack your InBox. When that buzzer sounds, get up and walk away – go and do something else, either virtuous (dishes?) or pleasurable ( go for a walk , read a book). Whatever you choose to do, it’s taken you away from the keyboard. Knowing that you only have half-an-hour or whatever time you opt for, sharpens your focus. You need to get cracking! No time for dawdling or fiddling.
- Beware of traps labelled Wikipaedia, and the like. Clicking on links to websites leads you to the quick-sands of distraction …you may get lost for hours. That distant buzzing sound is your timer: hellooo? hello? Yoohoo! Climb out, and resume your task.
- Open a HOLD or PEND Folder in your Folders column. I stick mail in there that is un-resolved, or likely to be on-going and may take weeks or even months to finalise. Diarise one hour, once a month, to go through your HOLD Folder, and ask the question: why am I keeping this? Delete anything that has grown mouldy green whiskers … or action it smartly. Feels good, huh?
- For that matter, open loads of Folders, according to your needs, and heave mail into them –including out of your SENT Box. The point is, by filing mail into your Folders, you get it out of the dreaded, catch-all InBox. I prune my Sent Box daily, keeping only immediate, un-resolved items in there. This way, it’s a kind of built-in Diary system. Works for me.
And now, having absorbed all this wisdom, you have earned happy free hours to nip back on line and play Mahjong, or Poker, or Scrabble, whatever blows your hair back. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t!