How to manage your email

This article was previously published in Appraisal Today and was written by Ann O’Rourke. It is copyrighted. For reprint permission, Contact Us.

If you only get a few email messages a month, correspond with only a few people, and never want to save your messages, you don’t have to worry about email management.

But once you join an active mailing list, have lots of people you correspond with, get lots of intra-company mail, or want to save your incoming and/or outgoing email messages, it’s time to think about managing your email.

If you use email for business purposes, managing it is particularly important.

Where your email is stored

When someone sends you email it is first stored on the server (computer) of your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or online service . You log on to the server and read your mail or download it onto your computer for later reading.

This can be a problem if you use more than one computer; for example, a home and an office computer. If you download on both computers, you’ll quickly lose track of your mail.

Most users only download email onto one machine, with other machines set to not download your email. In other words, you read and write your mail while logged on and don’t download on that computer. Most programs let you do this. This, of course, can be a problem or nuisance if you can’t remember what you’ve read and the replies you’ve sent. Plus copies of your outgoing messages will be on that machine.

Some programs, automatically download your email, but let you keep a copy on your ISP’s server, so that you can download the email later on your main email computer.

Email attachments

Almost all email programs allow file attachments. When you send an appraisal report, word processing file, or spreadsheet, you “attach” the file to an email message.

When you receive a file, your email program automatically downloads and stores it in a separate subdirectory on your computer, typically called “download”. For example c:\aol30\download or c:\eudora\download.

After the file is downloaded, you can use it just like any other file on your computer.

The Internet only allows transmission of ASCII (text) files. In order to send and receive binary (non-text) files, they must be encapsulated. The most common methods is MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions). Other methods are Binhex and Uuencode.

Some ISPs and online services have a “time out” which logs you off when downloading a large email file. Others limit the size of email attachments. This can be a problem. You may need to compress them, using Winzip or another program.

Limits on email server storage space

Some ISPs and online services limit the amount of email you can leave on the server.

Others limit you by total size of the messages, including attachments, for example, 5MB. Size limits might not seem like much of a problem until you start receiving large files as attachments, such as appraisal reports.

Mailing lists

Most people start having problems managing their email when they join an active email mailing list.

The number of messages sent by mailing lists varies dramatically. One list I are on only has messages once or twice a month. Another has 100 or more a day.

Keeping a copy of your outgoing mail

Why would you want a copy of your outgoing mail? For the same reason most people keep copies of paper memos they send. So they remember what they said, or to just keep a record of their correspondence.

You can set up most email programs so that it automatically keeps a copy of your outgoing mail. If your program doesn’t, you can always just add your email address to the email address you are sending email to, using the “cc:” feature.

Of course, you can always printout some of your messages. I do.

Spell checking

Knocking another person for having typos in their email messages is not “cool” on the Internet. I suspect that’s because few of the widely used Internet email programs have spell checkers!

For business use, I recommend using a spell checker.

Message filtering

The easiest and fastest way to manage large numbers of incoming email is to use message filtering. Otherwise your important personal and business email easily gets lost among the mailing list emails, for example.

I use Eudora Pro, which allows messages to be automatically filtered into separate folders. I belong to many mailing lists, and have each list’s email automatically put into its own folder.

Where to get email addresses

Getting people’s email addresses can be tough.

When someone sends you an email, you can put their email address into your address book by clicking an icon, using Windows cut and paste, or retyping the address, depending on how your email program handles new email addresses.

There are many web sites that let you search for email addresses. A few are: , , and . Sites that let you look up email and postal addresses at the same time can help you match the person you are looking for to the email address listing. This is very useful when you have six Ann O’Rourke’s listed, for example.

Some ISPs and online services don’t make their customers’ email addresses available. I have used five different ISPs and online services. Only two of my email addresses were listed.

Of course, once you get an email address, you have to send email to see if it is still good, and to see how frequently people check their email! I always request that they send me a reply to let me know they read the first message.

Reprinted from Appraisal Today Newsletter. Written by Ann O’Rourke