We all know what to do with email Spam – our anti-spam filters catch it and put it in the Bin where it belongs. If they’re working well we don’t even see it, never mind read it.
But there’s that big pile of other low-priority mail that’s still waiting for us every time we open our inboxes.
You know the sort of things we mean – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter notifications, group newsletters, bulletins, service updates etc.
There’s a name for this stuff too – “Bacon”.
It’s mail you have asked to be sent, but really it’s only a few steps up from Spam.
It’s swamping the really crucial and time critical mail we want to be able to spot easily, and give our proper attention to.
So, what’s the solution?
Well, where would you keep your Bacon at home – in the Fridge of course!
Somewhere it will be safe and tucked away so you can grab it when you want to, and then close the door on it again quickly.
OK, that might be stretching the metaphor a bit too far, but here’s how we think Bacon email should be handled:
• Use filters and rules to automatically identify as much of it as possible the moment it arrives.
• Get your email client (or web interface) to divert it away from your main inbox (which we’re keeping just for the good stuff), either to a labeled category (if you use Gmail) or a separate folder (e.g. if you’re an Outlook user).
• ONLY go and look in there at planned times – e.g. daily, twice weekly, weekly etc. whatever suits you best. You should be processing the Bacon when YOU choose, not as a reflex when it happens to come in (we advise turning off those new mail alerts too).
• (Advanced Ninja tip) Tweak your filters further so that the Bacon gets sorted into different ‘flavours’, so can choose which one you want and when. For instance my Gmail setup separates out Twitter and LinkedIn stuff and all the newsletters I’ve subscribed to into different catch areas, well away from my main inbox.
Even a handful of well chosen filters and rules will dramatically reduce the amount of low-priority mail you see in your main inbox.
It doesn’t take long either – if you add only one filter or rule a day (takes seconds when you’ve bothered to learn how for your email client), by the end of the week you’ll see a huge reduction in inbox “noise”.
It’ll also mean you can deal with the remaining important messages better too – and then get out of your email altogether, and back to doing some real work!