My 2009 new year’s resolution is to get e-mail under control. In the past, I’ve tried every system you’ve heard of (and probably dozens more) to manage my accounts, and none of them have worked for me over the long term. This year, I hope to find a more permanent solution for my e-mail needs.
My resolution goals for January have been to get the technical problems of my e-mail fixed. I have two devices (my laptop and my iPhone) on which I regularly check and respond to e-mail from four e-mail accounts. Up until last week, my two devices didn’t talk to each other. Every e-mail I received and read on my laptop was still unread on my iPhone, so I was handling every e-mail twice. Additionally, I was receiving in my inboxes about 400 pieces of spam every day. I would waste half an hour a day simply weeding through the spam.
These two problems had to be solved before I could even think about getting a handle on my other e-mail problems.
Multiple device communication
For more than 15 years, I have been using POP (Post Office Protocol) to download my e-mail from my server to my e-mail program. It served me well until I started using my phone as a second device for checking e-mail. Since POP doesn’t allow for multiple e-mail clients to tell each other, “hey, I already read that,” I had to handle each e-mail more than once.
To solve this problem, I changed my e-mail access protocol from POP to IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), which allows my different e-mail clients to speak to each other through my mail server. Honestly, I am very upset with myself for not doing this earlier.
If you want to make the switch, too, start by contacting your e-mail service provider to make sure that they offer IMAP. Once you determine that they do, check out your e-mail service provider’s website to see if they already have directions for how to make the switch for your particular system (Comcast, Verizon, etc.) and client (Outlook, Mail, etc.). My e-mail provider had extremely detailed directions that I could follow. If this information isn’t easily found online, call your provider’s customer support line so that they can direct you to the best instructions for your system. If you only use Gmail for your e-mail, follow the instructions on Google’s website.
To help fight spam, I enabled a server-side spam filter on my mail system. I talked with my e-mail service provider and learned about how I could make the threshold more selective so that spam no longer makes it into any of my inboxes.
Check with your e-mail service provider to see if they have server-side spam blocking available. If they do, they probably have a way for you to set the threshold level for that spam filter. Additionally, many allow for you to create “white lists” that let you receive e-mail from specific addresses that might otherwise be blocked by a spam filter. For example, I buy my favorite t-shirts online from Gap. Since I know they will send me receipts after I place my order, I have gap.com as a white listed address. If I didn’t make this adjustment, my spam filter might think that it was spam and not allow the receipt e-mails to arrive.
Additionally, Gmail has a great spam filtering system and is the best that I have found in the free e-mail system market. Unfortunately, three of my four e-mail accounts are not through Gmail.