Daily Tip: Your Email Has a Delete Button

Sean Gladwell Shutterstock

Sometimes it’s good to let go.

Thanks to the inexpensiveness of cloud-based storage, anybody can keep a decade’s worth of email without worrying about whether they’ll have to delete some of it to make room for more. And people do store everything—sometimes to their detriment. How many times have you keyword-searched your email for a particular message, only to surface a dozen or hundred emails that had little relevance?

While going back and nuking thousands of ancient emails would probably require more time than you’re willing to spare, you can make a point to delete irrelevant emails going forward, or even reserve time during the week to “prune” your inbox of newsletters you aren’t going to read and other junk. Your future self, desperately searching for that one special email amidst the thousands sent in 2014, will thank you.

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That’s not the only way to maintain good email hygiene. In the business-management book How Google Works, former Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg offer some helpful tips for effective emailing. Make a point to respond quickly, they advise, and write as pithily as possible. Use the blind-copy feature sparingly, and definitely don’t yell. For emails you’ll need later, forward them to yourself with a few salient keywords. And so on.

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