In this final post in the series I’m going to walk through a few more advanced tips for managing your mail and reducing headaches that come with a constant flow of messages. In “Own Your Inbox Part 1” I covered five ways that BlackBerry® device features help you get things done, which included a discussion on when to use email and when not to use it (hint: you’re using email too much). In “Own Your Inbox Part 2” I explored sorting and organizing email effectively. The tips included touched on using accurate subject lines for improving search, organizing mail into conversations, using follow-up flags and tasks, filing messages, the “two-minute rule”, and controlling the flow of email into your inbox.
In this final post in the series, I’m going to walk through a few more advanced tips for managing your mail and reducing headaches that come with a constant inflow of messages.
Exploring Email Account Options
Today let’s dig deeper by discussing a few more advanced tips, beginning with exploring the email account options on your device. You likely walked through the mail setup process when you first got ahold of your device, but let’s take a look at some of the more in-depth features that can make your communication even more of a breeze. On your BlackBerry® 7 or BlackBerry 6 smartphone, hit the “Setup” icon, or just type it into universal search to find it. You’ll see a screen like this:
When you head into “Email Accounts”, you’ll see two options: one for “Internet Mail Account” and the other for “Enterprise Account”. If you have an enterprise account setup, it’s likely managed by your IT department and requests for modification would likely need to go through them. In the event that you do not see the “Enterprise Account” option, please contact your wireless service for assistance.
Let’s look at the Internet mail account area – head in and then click on the account that you have set up (or set up a new one first!). There are a few things of note here that can help you out with email management:
1. General Options
Make sure that you have the “Your name” section filled out – this will display on recipient devices when you send a message. Additionally, you can modify your signature in this area. Opinions on this are mixed – some like to hide the fact that they’re using a mobile device, others like to include a “Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone” to make others aware when they’re on the road.
2. Delivery Options
Fun stuff in here – you can choose a “reply to” email address if you don’t want anything coming back to this particular account. This is useful if you’re changing email addresses; apply this setting to the old account to force everyone to slowly move over, even during a back-and-forth email conversation. Second is “Auto BCC”, which can send a copy over to an address of your choosing.
3. Synchronization Options
Depending on what features are supported by your mail provider, this area looks simple enough with the checkboxes for Calendar, Contacts, and Deleted Items, but they have big implications. Mail is synchronized by default, since after all, we are dealing with an email account that’s been set up. Calendar is useful to toggle if you only use the calendar of one email account – you can turn the others off so that they aren’t synchronized with your BlackBerry device. However, color-coding different calendars can help with that! Contacts and Deleted Items follow suit, allowing you to selectively synchronize specific components of your mail account.
The above options can help you to manually configure your mail accounts to the perfect settings that complement your style. You may have 3, 4, or even 10 email accounts, but use them in different ways and require unique components to be activated or deactivated on your BlackBerry smartphones. The email account options help you to get there.
The Unsubscribe Sweep
This was mentioned in passing within the last post in the series, but it deserves to be called out more clearly. We’re constantly interacting with digital services; signing up for new accounts, booking a hotel, or buying something online. Often during these travels we inadvertently get our email addresses thrown onto lists for “special offers” and the like. Unsubscribing from these can be arguably the single easiest thing you can do to lighten the email load on your inbox, with the biggest impact.
When I woke up this morning and checked my email, I had twelve messages that I had received during the night. Only three of them legitimately needed my attention, the others were from newsletters, notifications from social networks, and spam messages. I didn’t unsubscribe from them at that moment because it was 6:30 in the morning. No, I took the lazy route and did the “mark all as read” trick. It’s true; we don’t always have the time to do the unsubscribe sweep right then and there, so that’s why I’ve scheduled a recurring reminder in my calendar to give me a bump once a month to clean it all out at some point during that day. The results are fantastic: a huge reduction in the number of emails that I receive.
Tip: If you have social networking apps like Twitter® or Facebook® installed on your BlackBerry smartphone, then you likely don’t need the email notifications from these services – the apps will provide you with their own notifications when activity takes place. To learn more about setting up notifications for these apps, press the Menu key and select the Help option when using them.
Set Custom Notifications for Different Email Accounts
This is a great trick that is very under-utilized, in my opinion. We’ve got fantastic sound profile options with our BlackBerry smartphones with everything from Loud to Vibrate to Phone Calls Only. But, did you know that you can set up custom sounds for different email accounts? This is fantastic for those who have work accounts and personal accounts on the same device. When you’re at work, you can safely postpone personal emails without even looking at your device. Similarly, when you’re at home or spending time with family, you can leave those work emails until the morning.
To set up custom notifications for different email accounts, click on the little speaker at the top left of your home screen and then hit the button that reads “Change Sounds and Alerts”. This is where the magic happens: you can set up ring tones, modify sound profiles, remove profiles, and even set specific sounds for certain contacts. If you’re already using the sound profile that you want to modify for email account notifications, hit “Sounds for Selected Profile”. Otherwise, you can head into “Profile Management” and choose the profile that you want to modify.
You should see a screen that looks something like this (I’ve scrolled down to “Messages – Notifiers”):
If you choose one of these options, you’ll be able to set the notification tone, the volume, vibration, toggle notifications during calls, and toggle the LED light. With third party apps like BeBuzz Free – LED Light Colors you can even set a custom color (There are lots to choose from! I tried purple). Once you’ve got it where you want it, hit the “Try it” button to test it out, and feel free to tweak your settings until you’re comfortable. Beyond setting custom notifications for email accounts, try setting one for your boss, or your boss’s boss! This is an advanced warning system of sorts that gives you a heads up on what has just come in, before you even pick up your smartphone.
To learn more, head over to the BlackBerry Help Blog to discover how to set up ringtones, notifications, and alerts.
Investigating your email account options in the Setup application is worth the time to make sure that you’re synchronizing properly and have all of your details in place – with certain tools especially useful if you’ve recently changing email accounts. Schedule reminders for an unsubscribe sweep to take a load off of your inbox with just a few minutes of effort. Lastly, setup custom notifications to give you advance warning of what’s hitting your inbox, and from whom. With these tips applied, along with those from Part 1 and Part 2 of the series, you’ll be blasting through your inbox with minimal headaches and saving time each day.
Have any more tips for mobile email management that weren’t covered in the series? Share in the comments below!