Keeping email well organized is a challenge all of us face. Tags, Flags, and Inbox Zero. This short article isn't going to solve all your email woes, but will give you a quick tip to help you on your way to email nirvana.
Mail.app on the Mac has a nice built in feature called Flags. Using flags helps to categorize and even note the priority of a message. Rather than keep a taxonomy floating in your head, I'll show you how to give email flags meaningful names.
First open Mail.app and make sure the Mailboxes sidebar is open. If it's not open click the Mailboxes button.
Select a message in the inbox. Click the dropdown next to the flag button in the Mail.app toolbar. You'll see a list of all the color labeled flags and an option to clear a flag. Choose the Green flag option for a message.
Expand the Flagged menu on the left panel to see a view of how many messages have been flagged.
Select the Green flag and press the Return key. You'll be prompted to edit the flag's name.
Type in a descriptive name, such as Web Dev and press the Return key to set the new name.
Finally, click the dropdown menu again next to the flag button. Notice that the new name for the green flag also shows up in the dropdown menu. This provides better context when setting your mail flags.
Now that you're armed with the ability to rename your mail flags, spend a little time thinking about categories that make sense for you. Take out an old fashioned pencil and notepad and write down some ideas. Here's my current list with colors in parenthesis for reference only:
- Overdue (Red)
- Followup (Orange)
- Leads (Yellow)
- Learning (Green)
Once you have your list, follow the steps in the tutorial again and set names for your flags. You're now one step closer to email enlightenment.