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Get Control of your E-Mail, Before it Controls You

Ask any online entrepreneur where they spend the bulk of their time and they'll tell you they are reading and responding to e-mail. If you run an online business you may receive hundreds of messages a day. It comes with the territory and unfortunately, there's no escaping it. Keeping up with your e-mail is very important to your success online and you should make every attempt to answer any and all messages within 24 to 48 hours.

Here are some tips for streamlining the amount of time you spend managing your inbox.

1. Folders: Set up folders to better organize your e-mail and find things more readily when you need them. For example, you may want to set up folders named after individuals you get frequent mail from, folders for ezines you receive, software receipts, and others. When you need something, you will know exactly where to find it.

2. Blocked Senders List: Face it, we all get Spam and the more active you are online, the more of it you'll receive. Take it from me, I know. I get hundreds daily on every thing from growing certain parts of my anatomy (including ones I don't have), to how I can become a millionaire overnight. An easy way to rid yourself of Spam is to highlight the message and add it to your email client's blocked sender's list. Most all programs include this feature. Once you add someone to this list you'll never receive another e-mail from that address again.

Another option to reduce the amount of Spam you get is to run a Spam Filtering program before retrieving your e-mail. SpamKiller.com or Mailwasher.net both work great.

3. Message Rules: Make sure you set up message rules or filters as they can automate some tasks and move incoming messages to their appropriate folders. For example, you can set up a message rule that says if email arrives to a certain email address, reply with a prefabbed text document you have created in advance. Also known as autoresponders, message rules make it easy to automatically reply to messages, send messages directly to the trash and more. This is a powerful feature; study it and use it.

4. Empty Deleted⁄Sent Folders: Make sure you go into your sent box and deleted message folders on a regular basis and delete their contents. Messages can pile up quickly and slow down your e-mail client substantially.

5. Software: Many software manufacturers make add on module software for many of the popular e-mail clients like Outlook and Outlook Express. If the program doesn't have a feature you need, you may find an inexpensive package that will extend your e-mail client's capabilities. For an example: check out a list of freeware at SnapFiles

6. Do Something: Don't allow messages to build up in your inbox or before you know it you'll be buried alive in messages. As you go through your mail, try to act on every piece of mail you receive immediately. Reply to it, delete it, or file it in one of your folders. Just make sure you do something. If you follow this advice you'll never end up with 500 sitting in your inbox demanding your attention.

7. Print It: If you're like me, you subscribe to a lot of ezines. If you don't have time to read them online do what I do: print them out and take them on the road with you. I read them while waiting for appointments or when I'm on break or lunch at my night job.

8. Customize Layouts: Most e-mail clients allow you to customize the toolbars and look of your program. Add the features you use most often to the toolbars and change the look of the layout to suit your needs.

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