As we try to deal with information overload in today’s digital age, the less distractions the better. Email, social and phone notifications ping us throughout the day, having a significant impact on our productivity and stress.
While these distractions do seem overwhelming, it’s refreshing to know that emails services and social media platforms are implementing changes to reduce this burden. For example, Gmail now allows you (in “configure inbox” settings) to enable auto categorization of promotional and social notifications into separate folders. I’ve found this very helpful in reducing clutter in my main inbox.
There’s always the other side to this, however. I’ll continue with Gmail as an example as that is what our company uses. Gmail has automatic spam filters built in to catch potentially harmful or unsolicited messages.
Most of the time, this is a great feature. But what happens when Gmail is wrong is files away an important lead email in spam? It’s not a good feeling to check your spam folder at the end of the month and see a missed contact form submission that basically says, “I would like to buy your product”. Uh, sorry about that customer yes we can help you – is 2 months too late?
Setting Up Spam Filters
So, let’s make sure that does not happen again! The way we do this is by applying filters. This is easy to do if you have a contact form on your website or you get notifications that have a consistent subject line.
We have a contact form on our website with a notification sent to my email with the words “contact form” in the subject line. What I want to do is setup a filter in my Gmail settings to automatically file emails with the words “contact form” in the subject line to go into my main email box and apply a label I can later search by, called “Contact Form”. I am also going to select “never send to spam” just to make sure I do not miss anything important.
I could perform a similar setup if I wanted to make sure I received email notifications for all blog signup contacts, etc. It really depends on what’s important to your business to not miss. Consider setting up filters for the following items:
- Emails with a subject line that contains certain words
- Emails from specific senders you want added to a folder
- Daily notifications you want marked as read upon receipt (for example, I do this with some Basecamp notifications)
- Emails you want marked as important from certain senders
The list goes on. There are many helpful filters you can apply to make your email work for you.
What’s important is that you either setup filters such as the above or set reminders for yourself periodically to clear out spam so you can make sure nothing important gets missed!
Clearing Out Your Spam
To help your email service learn what is spam and what isn’t, it’s good practice to go into your spam folder often to mark what really is and isn’t spam.
I usually set time aside once a month to go through spam emails, click a check box by each one I would like to receive in my main inbox in the future, and click “not spam”.
While our company uses Gmail, many email services provide similar functions so that you can organize and clear out your email. If you would like help setting up your own, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!