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By 9 March 2009 | Categories: netsmart

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Depending of one’s concept of progress, email can be a blessing or a curse. Nobody needed email until it arrived, and rapidly it became the most widely-used means of communication for both personal and business use. In fact business email is now as indispensable as the telephone for conducting business and basically replaced regular mail and faxing as the primary means of sending documents. 

Supposedly email can help you manage your time better, and in that regard being an efficient email user is now ­becoming an essential professional skill. Now, a great many people access their email on their cellphones and in so doing “carry” their email around pretty much 24/7. A lifetime ago I signed up for a bulletin board service (the pre-cursors to the Internet) and got my first exposure to electronic messaging. My reaction: Awesome! This is really cool! Now I don’t have to phone people! Zapping information back and forth at the speed of light will be a big productivity boost. Since then email has become the Internet’s first killer app, and with it clogged up inboxes everywhere.

It’s not email itself that is the problem, it’s the volume of email, the clutter, which has become the problem. As email grew, its strengths became its weaknesses. The ease with which you can dispatch pretty much anything at all, whether the recipient wants it or not, means that inboxes just get more and more full. Quite simply, there are just too many messages.

So what now? Getting on top of your email has become critical. So, I went out looking for the most useful tools I could find to accomplish this task. I was extremely pleased with what I came across:

•    Xobniwww.xobni.com

Xobni (Inbox backwards) rocks! Outlook is surprisingly bad when you have lots of content and Xobni, an Outlook plugin, can help you organise a flooded inbox. Some of its features include threading conversations and lightning fast email search. Even Bill Gates raved about it.

•    Taglocitywww.taglocity.com

Taglocity aims to improve Outlook by including more Gmail-like features. It turns messages, contacts, calendar entries etc. into taggable items or virtual folders, much like Gmail does. These tags are then used to create an intuitive, non-rigid interface which is easy to organise.

•    Clear Contextwww.clearcontext.com

Another Outlook tool, Clear Context aims to “make your inbox useful again” by filing and organising email, grouping information by project and turning emails into ­appointments and tasks. These tasks are done automatically, saving you a lot of time.

•    Five.sentenc.eshttp://five.sentenc.es

From their website: “five.sentenc.es is a personal policy that all email responses regardless of recipient or subject will be five sentences or less. It’s that simple.” Also consider four, three or two sentences.

If you have any questions or queries drop me a mail, lance@brandedinternet.co.za.

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