When you’re clawing your way out from under a staggering load of email, the inbox is the logical place to start. However, you won’t achieve a higher plane of email grace until you master your outbox.The inbox gets all the attention, that’s where the deluge begins and if you can stanch the onslaught with spam filters and discipline, it will make your life easier. But overlook the outbox at your peril. That’s where you’ll find the digital paper trail that can make your life easier.
First off, make sure your email client is set to save sent messages (some clients call this the “sent” messages folder, some designate it as the “outbox”). By setting your client to save those messages, you’ve created an automated archive of your correspondence.
Someone says they never got your message. Look in the sent folder and resend. Someone misquotes you and you’ve got the evidence of what you’re email really said. It can and will save you time and trouble.
However, just as the inbox requires management, so does the outbox. Fear not, it’s easier and less time-consuming to manage your outbox. Mostly, you need to delete things. Every few weeks, take a quick perusal of your outbox and do some culling.
* Delete all the requests to “unsubscribe”
* Delete all the emails you sent to clients in the “Thank you for sending this” or “Received, thanks” vein.
* Delete all the emails to friends and family confirming personal events and information
* If you think you might ever need to refer to an email again, keep it.
* Don’t delete anything less than one month old.
If you keep the outbox managed, you’ll make it easier to find what you want, you’ll reduce the clutter in your email archive (more on that later), and you’ll put yourself in control not just of the email you read, but the email you’ve written.