The “e” in email might as well stand for electronic nightmare for many in their working lives, such is the horror of delving into the inbox. However, as the vast majority of what we do today is digital, email is an important record-keeping system. You can save time (and ultimately, money) if you don’t delete every email in your inbox – provided you have a system to efficiently weed out the garbage.
Never deleting email is lazy
Don’t mistake this message for a call to lose the delete button in the darkest crevasse of your inbox. Not deleting email is a lazy organization system, suggests WiseBread. The importance of digital record-keeping becomes quite clear when you can quickly recall messages that include reference to features, services, pricing and other contract terms.
If there’s a dispute, documentation is key. Save emails and chat transcripts so you have a (digital) paper trail. This can work against the email hoarder, too, so make sure you aren’t doing anything illegal or underhanded – unless your compulsive desire to be caught exceeds your thimble-full of common sense.
Documents at your fingertips
Whether it’s a tax return, resume or something personal with dates and phone numbers, email can be a convenient storage option, whether the data is in the email itself or found in an attachment. In either case, most modern email clients provide the user with extensive search capability via keywords.
If you made a commitment regarding a long-term project and don’t remember all of the details, having email around gives you the back-up files necessary. This saves you the time and embarrassment of following up with involved parties, and it can help resolve potential deadline and assignment conflicts between colleagues, with a client or even among friends and family.
Finding an old contact
Not everyone keeps the contacts list in their smartphone or tablet completely up-to-date. Sometimes, certain people slip through the cracks. If you lose track of their contact info, then suddenly find yourself in need of it, you’re out of luck.
Email can provide a backup to your contacts list. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve only met with the contact once or see them on a regular basis. Keep the records in a place where you store your important business information and you won’t have to experience as many embarrassing moments later.
Leave a trail of digital bread crumbs
Try connecting a service like Evernote to your email, too. With email clients like GMail, there are extensions that enable you to run services like Evernote simultaneously along with your email.
If there’s something you don’t want in your email but know you may need later, leave some kind of clue in your inbox as to how you can access the information on demand later, either through another digital service or through physical, real-world files.
Apply filters to minimize clutter apocalypse
Living life without blanket email deletion is challenging. Applying filters to your email so that it can be sorted into topic folders can make it less so. Setting up filters to send sales alerts, newsletters and other time-sensitive items to the trash after a certain amount of time can help when cleaning your inbox is a priority.