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Escape email entropy: Editor's Notes #336
March 31, 2021

If you are unhappy with anything... whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you'll find that when you're free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.
—Tina Turner

In this issue:

1. Escape email entropy
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. My Covid-19 offer to you

1.Escape email entropy
For purposes of this article, entropy is "a trend to disorder." Unless you have taken conscious charge of your email, you either experience or will experience email entropy, meaning disorder in your email system.

My own tipping point came when I had to switch from one software to another. Most emails transferred neatly into recognizable folders in the new software, but many hundreds scattered throughout the program, and I am still finding random emails from four years ago in odd places.

But email clutter may simply creep up on you over time. Every email takes some time to deal with, so having any unnecessary email in your inbox nibbles at your time, time you could be using to write, contact publishers, read, enjoy your favourite pastime. In addition, at a certain point the amount of email eats up storage space on your computer. In the interests of time and space, getting control of your email pays off.

Many people choose to divert potential junk mail into a special file so they never see it. That works well until you have to hunt for something that is accidentally filed in the junk folder. I live in the middle ground of having software that shows potential junk mail in a different colour, so I can quickly scan those myself, and I put the true junk in the trash immediately and leave the legitimate emails alone. Any way you deal with junk mail can work for you. Just be intentional about how you handle yours.

When I decided to take better control of my email, I created a folder for all the mail in my inbox on that date and made a rule for myself to keep my inbox empty each night when I shut down my computer. That meant I had to do something with each email that came in daily.

I had maintained many subscriptions to lists that I no longer had time to tend to, so I unsubscribed to any that I knew were legitimate. I never click on any link that could be owned by someone who uses email unethically, so I have opted to keep some nuisance emails because in the past, clicking some unsubscribed links has sent my email address to other scammers. (The unsubscribe link to Editor’s Notes simply takes your email out of the automated list.)

I have had to discipline myself to write notes in my daily planner about things I need to do in the future related to incoming emails. Then I file those emails instead of just leaving them in the inbox on the basis of the theory that seeing them often would nudge me to take action. I created a folder for pending emails for items that needed more research or that needed to be held for some other reason, and that’s where I put anything I didn’t deal with by the end of the business day. I check that folder daily and get rid of the messages as quickly as possible.

Of course I still have the archive folder that has many messages that need to be dealt with, and I whittle away at those when I have time. I use the search function in my email software to sort that folder by sender or by subject to get through the archive more efficiently. I have to discipline myself both to attend to that folder and also not to start my day with that folder instead of the daily inbox. But I can see the light at the end of that tunnel.

I create new business and personal folders as needed. I have so many clients that I need to have a separate folder for each client. To keep the number of other folders as low as possible, I have folders that group several senders. For example, I have Health and House folders. Doctor, dentist, and lab emails are all in the Health folder while plumbers, electricians, and landscapers are in the House folder. (I also have an Editor’s Notes folder, and if you have written to me in response to Editor’s Notes, that message is there.)

Experts suggest that emails of a certain age (that age varies according to the expert) should be purged. Despite the number of my emails, I keep them all. So far, I have never been sorry to have kept a very old email. Clients, and sometimes others, send an email after more than ten years, and I find it helpful to have a record of all my communications with someone who comes back into my life. If you do want to purge your emails by date, it is easy enough to do that by sorting by date and simply selecting everything before that date and hitting delete.

You will want to delete any chatty emails that do not contain any important information.

With a little attention to detail, you can escape email entropy and move into a more efficient way of dealing with email.

2.Tickled my funny bone
Someone removed the fifth month from the calendar. I was really dismayed.

3. Interesting Web site
For more tips on organizing your email, click the link below.

4. Writing prompt
Write a scene where sorting solved a problem.

5. My Covid-19 offer to you
This is definitely a good-news-bad-news time. The good news is that vaccines are proving effective against Covid-19. The bad news is that variants have the jump on humans in many jurisdictions. I am still hoping that by September we can return to a more normal normal. If we can, I will close this Covid-19 offer. If we can’t, the offer below will carry on. The best I can say is, stay tuned, and consider sending a sample of your writing to take advantage of this offer.

What follows is a copy and paste from issue number 309. The offer is still in force for you and anyone you choose to tell about it.

Along with the health threat hanging over the world, we are facing a huge financial hit. I’ve decided one thing I can do is to make quality editing less expensive during this trying time.

For subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends, I am suspending the fee for the sample edit to anyone using the code EN19 until I cancel this offer. I intend to keep this offer open as long as the world is in crisis with Covid-19 and its aftermath, so watch this space. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer. You can submit your writing sample at Be sure to click the link below the heading "Promotion Code" to get to the special form for a free sample edit. If you find yourself at a form before clicking the special link, scroll slowly back up the page, and you should see the link for the code (EN19).

But it gets better…

When I return an edited writing sample, I include quotes for the full range of my editing services. Until further notice, I will give a true quote, but I will not charge writers the full amount. I am discounting my services 50% for subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer.

Feel free to pass this offer along to any writing friends you think may be interested. As long as anyone uses the code, I’ll honour the offer.

This is what I can offer you in this time of crisis. I hope it encourages you as you face possible illness and financial uncertainty.

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