In How many email
addresses do you need? I advocated that you need at least three email
addresses. To review, I strongly recommend that you have:
- A private address for people you trust and prioritize
- A public address for everyone else from whom you want to
- A throw-away address for one time, or occasional use that
you ignore the rest of the time.
That’s a start. It’s a good start, and will go a long way to taming the
But it’s just a start. Especially if you get a lot of mail, you can do
As I often do here, I’ll use myself as an example.
I have four email accounts: (Visit On Domains, Accounts and
Addresses for a refresher on the important difference between an
account and an address.)
- A personal account.
- A business account for my business.
- A business account for my wife’s business.
- A bulk mail account for bulk mail.
I should note that all the accounts are supplied by the same provider. In
this case, that would be me, since I run my own mail server, but there are many
services out there that will provide this same level of functionality.
The first three should be fairly self explanatory. For many important
reasons, you want to project the correct image when running your business, and
part of that these days is using the proper email domain when conducting that
business. Hence the first three are all on their own domains … my personal
domain – notenboom.org, my company’s domain –
pugetsoundsoftware.com, and my wife’s business domain –
dollsandfriends.com. (I’ll discuss how unprofessional it is
to use a “Hotmail” or other free account for business in another essay.)
It’s that last one, the bulk mail account, that’s an
important example of how an additional email account can streamline your
I use my “bulk mail” account for exactly what it sounds: it’s the account
that I use when subscribing to email newsletters and discussion lists. There’s
no person-to-person communication using that address, only bulk mail.
This let’s me do three things:
I control my email downloads – exactly how often to check
for and download email is a topic for another discussion, but when I do check
mail throughout the day, I don’t automatically download bulk mail.
I’ve configured my email program to only check for and download mail from
the bulk mail account when I explicitly request it. I may request it when I’m
bored, when I need a break, or I may be too busy and not download my bulk mail
until the end of the day. The bottom line is that my bulk mail does not
distract me from my “real” mail that is part of my business and which I do
check more frequently throughout the day.
A nice side effect is that I can ignore or significantly delay bulk email
when I’m traveling. When I’m on the road downloads may be slower, and I often
have other things on my mind.
I file bulk mail separately – one of the simplest email
processing rules is “move mail received on this account to that folder
when it arrives.” That’s exactly what I do. All mail coming in on my bulk mail
account bypasses my inbox completely, and goes into a separate folder, so that
even if I do download it, it’s still not distracting me from my other,
more important, email.
I archive all bulk mail – this is another safety net.
Recall that I use my bulk mail account for email discussion lists and
newsletters. Have you ever wanted to go back to some old post on a mailing
list, only to find that there’s no archive? Or you recall that there was some
really interesting tidbit of information in that tech newsletter you
subscribe to, but now it’s gone?
I make my own archive. Another really simple email processing rule
is “move a copy of mail received on this account to that other folder
when it arrives.” Hence every piece of bulk mail that I get also goes into an
archive folder that I can then search and retrieve from as needs be. Remember
disk space is
The idea here is not that you run out and set yourself up a bulk email
account – though of course you can if that sounds like an approach that would
serve you well.
What’s more important here is the concept: separate accounts for separate
reasons. With the exception of controlling when things get downloaded,
everything here can be done with a single account using “rules”, so focus on
the downloads as the differentiator.
Look at your own email and try to determine what class of email, what
senders could you relegate into a less-frequently checked bucket, a
less frequently downloaded account?
Once you’ve identified them, create an account, or more than one account if
it suits you, and change those senders to use those email addresses. In my
case, I simply changed my subscription addresses for all the different
newsletters and discussion groups I was on to my bulk email address. You would
do something similar.
Add the corresponding rules to move your bulk mail to other folders, and
you’ll notice your inbox starting to feel lighter right away.