Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tool Tuesday: Email Management

A recent survey of small businesses and freelancers found that 85-percent use some form of Gmail, while the rest used their own hosted email service attached to their website (which you can also do through Gmail).

Gmail is a great service for keeping everything in one place. The biggest drawback is that, unless you use an add - on or another email client, it's hard to keep your inbox cleaned up.

I've been coaching quite a few businesses lately on email management. All are using Gmail.  Each has at least three email addresses they are juggling. Most are using Macs, although some PC users are in the group.

The average number of unread emails in a typical inbox before starting is 15,000.  That's right - 15,000 unread emails.  In every case, those i worked with found it difficult to keep up because there was no simple way for them to sort or file emails without knowing the five basic steps of ballet.  They had to log out and then back in each time they wanted to check different email accounts or have multiple tabs open, one for each account.

Because of the dilemma so many find themselves facing with out - of - control email, I've been looking into different email clients. An email client is an app or piece of software that allows you to load all your email addresses into one program.  From there, you can handle not only email, but calendaring and contacts all from one program.

I tested three different email clients, each of which has advantages and do well handling any email accounts you have, all from one place. 

The granddaddy of the three, and the most robust, is Microsoft Outlook.  With Outlook, you can use either the Web version, Outlook.com, or a standalone app. The advantage of using the Web version is that the phone app is free and allows you to sync your email,  calendar and tasks across all your devices, just like Gmail.

Setup is a breeze, as long as you know your server settings for your hosted email, although most now work well with auto - setup.  Once in there, you can set it up to keep track of those who email you by adding them to your contact list automatically.  You can drag and drop events and appointments into your calendar from email or drag an email into tasks to set a followup.  You can also color code everything based on categories you set up. For instance, one small business i worked with has a different color code for each client so they can tell at a glance what's coming up for each.

The biggest drawback with Outlook is that the desktop app is a bit of a RAM hog if you leave it open all the time. You'd expect that, though, from the program that set the standard for email management.

The other two email clients work about the same as Outlook - Apple Mail,  which is installed on all Apple products automatically, and Thunderbird, a free email client from Mozilla, which works on either PC or Mac.

Thunderbird is a great alternative to either of the other email clients because it doesn't require so many resources on your desktop. It's easy to use, easy to set up and has an excellent user interface. Best of all? It's free!

If you're using Gmail,  Yahoo mail or any other email service, definitely grab one of these email clients; you'll find your email much easier to manage.