Smart people will disagree – often and with gusto.
I have read at least three articles recently where productivity specialists are recommending to readers to create and manage multiple emails for work.
The reasons include:
- Giving VIPs access to a special email address to which you pay greater attention
- Branding different businesses
- To reduce email overwhelm
I respectfully disagree with this approach. Having multiple email addresses generally results in multiple email accounts to manage as well as multiple headaches.
Now, I’m not on an island here. Other productivity gurus preach consolidation of email as well.
Why? Because managing multiple email addresses is incredibly hard! Diving a stack of paper into two or more piles doesn’t decrease the amount of paper, it just gives you more piles to sort through.
Here are three multi-address scenarios I’ve regularly seen with clients and the advice I’ve given.
Scenario One: My work email changed, and I’m afraid to shut down the old address
Companies change names. People leave their ISPs. Email addresses go bye-bye. This is life.
Trying to manage your old account as well as your new one for an extended period of time is unproductive and confusing to those with whom you correspond.
My advice: Send out a notification to key contacts that your email address is changing. Check the old account once a day for no more than 30 days. Create an autoreply in the old account that gives your new contact info.
After a reasonable time period (maybe 90 days?), shut the old email address down completely.
Scenario Two: My primary email became overwhelming so I created another one
First, recall the statement above about what happens when you divide a stack of paper into two piles. The perceived decrease in the volume of paper is an optical illusion.
Secondly, by creating other email addresses, you have increased the administrative burden on those with whom you correspond. They now have to think “Which address should I use?” before composing a message.
My advice: Practice good email management in your one, and only one, business email inbox. It can be done, I promise.
Scenario Three: I run different businesses
You may have many different domains that correspond with your various brands.
My advice: If you are effectively managing the various inboxes, rock on. If you find it difficult to be as attentive and responsive as you need to be, first make sure that all mailboxes are coming to the same place. Both Gmail and Outlook can handle multiple accounts in the same place.
Secondly, consider whether you could designate a single account from which all of your replies would come. To do this, you would need to set up automatic forwarding from all accounts into this single account. You would have one, and only one, work inbox to manage.
So, only one account, really?
Please note that all the scenarios above refer to multiple work email accounts. I am a proponent of having a separate personal email account.
Work situations change from time to time, and your company owns your work account. There is no expectation of privacy with work email. So, I think it is important to have your own personal email account.
And, what about all the SPAM I get?
If you are overwhelmed by the mailing lists and automated notifications you receive, you may want to create a “throwaway” email account.
Here’s the critical distinction with this address…you rarely if ever access it and certainly don’t worry about managing it well.
If you want to read the free whitepaper first before giving a company your real email (sorry Hubspot!), you can use the throwaway address. Want the 20% off coupon, use the throwaway account.
Additionally, if you are doing some online shopping and don’t care whether you see the shipping notifications, use the throwaway address during checkout. You’ll receive a lot less spam in your primary email account.
Just like you wouldn’t mount a second mailbox at the end of your driveway to accommodate all your postal mail, don’t create additional work email addresses in an effort to increase efficiency.
Your email problem will still exist, it will just have more places in which to hide.
Read my eBook Conquer Your Email Today…because there is no tomorrow.
Dr. Melissa Gratias (pronounced "Gracious") is a work psychologist who helps overwhelmed and underappreciated businesspeople be more focused and effective. Since 2007, thousands of people have graduated with honors from her onsite sessions, distance coaching, productivity seminars, and corporate consulting projects. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Melissa is available for nationwide consulting and speaking engagements. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 912-417-2505.Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter or visit her website, melissagratias.com.