Have your own domain? Check this email management strategy.

Flooded by E-Mails

Facebook notifications, Pinterest updates, MOOC updates, Twitter interactions, letters from friends and family, loyalty program updates, wealthy Nigerian widows. It doesn't take long for the in-box to be flooded with mail. Some is for information only, others require action while others are safely ignored. How do you manage it all?

Multiple E-Mails

Separate accounts for personal e-mail and another for everything else is a common strategy. The problem with this is, when you factor in your work e-mail, you're logging in and out of several accounts to manage your communications. You can use a program like Outlook to gather multiple e-mails using POP settings but then you're tied to a particular device.

email filteringE-Mail Filtering

E-Mail filtering is a useful tool. Most e-mail clients let you create storage folders and filters to automatically send messages meeting certain criteria to the specified folder. For example, I have a folder on my school e-mail titled Edmodo. I created a filter to send all messages from edmodo.com to that folder. Because they are for my information only and don't require action, I'm comfortable shuttling those messages to a folder to review once or twice a month. This is a reasonably effective solution but makes it difficult to trace the origin of unwanted or spam e-mail. But when you start getting real spam, how do you find the source?

The Holy Grail of E-Mail Management: The Catch-All Account

If you have your own domain you can probably set up what is known as a Catch-All account. These accounts grab every e-mail to a domain that does not have an established identity. When I sign up for a service, I use the service-name@mydomain.com. I don't have to set up separate accounts for each service because the catch-all will grab the unknown e-mail and throw it in the catch-all in-box. There, I can filter, sort, read, or auto-delete. When the offers of riches from Nigerian widows show up in the box, I merely have to look at the front end of the e-mail to see which service has had their mailing list compromised.

In the last few years very few of the services I register for have had any problems with real spam. On one occasion I received an e-mail that used my full name, made a suspect job offer, and made reference to my CV. The source e-mail was a service I used more than a decade ago during a job hunt. Hovering over the e-mail link within the e-mail alarm bells rang and the so-called job offer was nothing more than a redirect to a pharmaceutical sales site. Knowing exactly where that spammer got my e-mail was helpful inasmuch as I could inform the service of the breach, and make efforts to secure my information at that site.

This strategy will only work if you have your own domain. The good news is that e-mail hosting is fairly inexpensive, often less than $2/mo. I find the combination of the catch-all account and message filtering an effective way to manage the deluge of e-mails that arrive each day. What strategies do you use?

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