Archive Your Emails

Highly Effective Work Habits:  Archive Your Emails

Whatever email system you use at work, whether it be Outlook, Lotus Notes, or something else, archiving off your old emails is always a good idea.  The only downside is that, over time, it can take up a lot of space.  My Outlook archive file has been running since late 2004 and is over 2GB!

EmailI can’t count the number of times I’ve had to go into the archive to pull up old information.  I have all of my Outlook folders organized by topic and project.  This makes finding the information easier.  I also have keyword search capability if I still can’t find what I’m looking for.  Beyond just using this as a knowledge base, it is also useful to help people remember prior conversations :-)   Sometimes, especially if a colleague swears up and down that you never provided them some information or notified them of an important event, this is a great way to show that you did.

I would highly recommend archiving all of your folders, your inbox, and your sent box.  If you question the latter, just think about all of those emails that you send to people that you don’t manually save off.  Many times, much of the critical information you send around are in replies to other emails.  And, every now and then, you’ll want to go through some of your archived folders and remove content you are absolutely certain you will never need again.  This will help to keep your archive file smaller.

To make this as mindless as possible, you should definitely have your email client auto-archive on a regular basis.  Then, you don’t have to constantly remember to do it.  What settings to use for archiving depends largely on how much work you do and whether or not your company imposes a space limit.  For example, I have my Outlook set up to archive every 14 days and it will save off items older than 2 months.  My company has a 150 MB space limit per employee, so I’ve found that I can only keep 2 months worth of emails before I need to start archiving.

So, play around with it a bit and determine the best strategy that works for you.  The important thing is that you are saving your data!

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