Freelancing: Organizing Email and Information

I have mentioned before that I am not a physically organized person. I am a clutterbug. I’m terrible about throwing things away and putting things ‘away.’

Unfortunately, that carries over to my digital world as well. You don’t want to know how many emails are in my inbox that need to be deleted (and I have multiple email accounts like that). However, I can’t survive as a freelancer if I can’t find what I need when I need it, so I have some tools that help me from drowning in my digital clutter.

Email Organization
Since email is the main form of communication I use, it is critical to keep emails from being lost in the continual stream of communication coming into my inbox. Number one, I have separate emails for personal versus work related emails. Both of these are web-based and open in two different tabs of my browser.

Inside my email inbox I have several folders setup for my primary clients and move emails into those folders that I want to keep, either temporarily or long-term. Since communication with my clients from online freelance sites is always available on those sites, I don’t worry about keeping those emails once they’ve been read.

In addition to folders, I use the flag feature to mark emails that come in that include a to-do item for me that I am not addressing immediately, but don’t want to forget. When I finish my current task, I’ll go back and look for my flagged emails and complete the tasks associated with then. Articles being submitted to me by my subcontractors would be an item that I would flag in that way.

Evernote
I absolutely LOVE this free little program. Anything that I use for organization has to be super easy and require VERY LITTLE SETUP TIME and input. That is the beauty of Evernote. Once you have it installed, you are given an email address connected to the program. In additions to my folders and flags within my inbox, I use Evernote to save emails with critical information. All I have to do is forward the email to my Evernote email and automatically it is saved there for me and I can delete the original from my inbox.

Evernote also has a clipper tool to add to your browser tool bar. I use this all the time when I’m researching for an article. As I find a website or web article that I might use as a resource, I simply click my little Evernote clipper tool and it takes a picture of that web page or article and puts it in Evernote for me. Quick and easy!! I have also used it to save my online ‘clippings,’ the articles that I have published in online magazines etc.

In addition, you can create your own notes in Evernote either written or as an audio recording. I haven’t used the audio feature much, mainly because I forget it is there and prefer visual text.

Evernote is extremely searchable. You can simply search for text within the items in Evernote or you can tag items in different categories. You can also setup folders within Evernote if you desire. I prefer to simply use the search feature to find what I need. You can also forward things from your Evernote app to others via email, or with the paid version, actually share specific folders for collaboration.

Evernote saves everything in your account online so that it can be accessed securely from any computer; you don’t have to worry about losing anything if your computer crashes. It also has a smartphone app so that you can access your Evernote account from your phone.

You have to setup what works for you. Ease of use and savings of time are my two top criteria for organizational tools.

How do you keep your email and online research organized?

Do you love and use the ‘search’ feature as often as I do?

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