Upgrade Your Life

The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better


Chapter 1

Control Your Email

The greatest double-edged sword in productivity technology, email both empowers and overwhelms its users. But the most successful professionals know how to control their email instead of letting it run their workday.

Hack 1
Empty Your Inbox (and Keep It Empty)

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"When you can consistently reduce the contents of your inbox to zero messages, you've reached the ultimate level of email control."

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Hack 2
Decrease Your Email Response Time

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"Responding to your email in a timely, professional manner is one of the best things you can do for your career. But no one emerges from the womb with a natural talent for parrying a constant stream of new messages popping up in front of your face all day long. Email responsiveness is an acquired skill-the one that just may differentiate you from everyone else in the world overwhelmed by an overloaded inbox."

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Hack 3
Craft Effective Messages

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"The clearer your email messages are, the more likely you are to get the result you want in a more timely fashion-whether it's a response, a completed task, or an informed recipient."

Hack 4
Highlight Messages Sent Directly to You

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"When faced with an inbox full of new, unread email, it's nearly impossible to determine which messages need to be dealt with right away, and which can be put off until later."

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Hack 5
Use Disposable Email Addresses

Level: Easy
Platform: Web

"If you hate the idea of giving your email address to any web site that asks for it, and you want to protect your email address from junk mail and spam, use a disposable email address instead."

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Hack 6
Master Message Search

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"In the physical world you can't throw years worth of letters, cards, and memos into a drawer and then pick out the one Tom sent you about that fabulous rental he got in Key West back in 2003 in seconds. However, that is absolutely possible with an email folder containing thousands of messages."

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Hack 7
Future-Proof Your Email Address

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"You've probably got as many email addresses as you do pairs of socks, but you don't want to change them as often. In fact, switching your primary email address can be a big inconvenience that leads to missed messages and lost relationships."

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Hack 8
Consolidate Multiple Email Addresses with Gmail (New in 2nd Edition!)

Level: Medium
Platform: Web

"Gmail is not only an email host, it's an email client that can fetch mail from any number of external services and consolidate it all right there in your Gmail inbox."

Hack 9
Script Repetitive Responses

Level: Medium
Platform: All with Mozilla Thunderbird

"To knock down repetitive email quickly, build up a set of scripted email responses that you can drop into emails quickly, personalize if necessary, and send off without spending the time composing the same information every time."

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Hack 10
Filter Low-Priority Messages ('Bacn')

Level: Easy
Platform: All

"Millions of email messages course over the Internet per second, and a bunch of them land in your inbox. Your spam filter helps shuttle junk mail out of sight, but what about messages from cc-happy co-workers, Aunt Eunice's forwarded emails, Facebook friend notifications, Google Alerts, and mailing list messages that clutter your inbox with low-priority noise?"

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