quick wins on technology – control your email

I was recording a session yesterday on using technology in ministry, for an upcoming subject with the timothy partnership. It was a chance to talk with some learned men about the way they use technology at the moment, and give some ideas on how to use technology better.

One thing that always surprises me when talking to people about the way they use technology is how different each person’s relationship with technology is. Often people will end up doing something an inefficient way because they don’t know that a better way exists. In general, people don’t share their technology tips with each other, so it’s possible that a great solution could be out there, and you’ll never know about it.

Take email for example. I could rattle on for a long while about how to make the most of using email (would anyone be interested in that?) but here’s just one thing that you can do.

If you’re going to leave your email program open all day, the temptation will be to keep checking email all the time. By default, an email program will look for new email every few minutes. If you change this to a longer gap, then you will have fewer interruptions in your day, and be able to concentrate on what you should be working on.

Here are some links that might help you figure out how to do this:

  • Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail, Windows Mail
  • Outlook 2003
  • Mail.app (on the Mac) – in the “Mail” menu, go to Preferences. Click on the “General” tab. The second drop-down will be “Check for new messages” and some time options, the longest of which is an hour.
  • (added) Thunderbird – look for the checkbox that says “Check for new messages every [ ] minutes

Is that helpful? Is there an email client that you’re using (a program for checking your email) that isn’t on the list? Let me know in the comments.

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  1. The email frequency is a good tip! It also applies to Twitter and other intrusive applications.

    I’d add Thunderbird to that list.

    The thing is, I fear that many people who could benefit from these sorts of tips are unlikely to find it unless they know someone who points them to it.

  2. Thanks Karen, I’ve added Thunderbird to the list. Solving the problem of having people find these kinds of tips is indeed a big deal: I have some ideas, though – to start with, I’m trying to put together tips for changing the mindset about technology, and make them available to people who are doing theological education.

  3. I would be interested in hearing how to make the most of email 🙂

    I use mine as a to-do list and try to aim for zero inbox at least once in a while.

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