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Is Facebook Really a Good Email Option?

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Facebook’s “secret” announcement on Monday, which has been all but confirmed to be an overhaul of their messaging system to make it work more like email, could be the start of something much bigger than just an upgraded to a site function for users. Some speculate that Facebook could rival Google’s gmail in becoming a top-choice free email platform. I do see a number of advantages, and most exciting to me is the prospect that everything is in one place. I’m a fan of tools that help me multi-task.

But is Facebook really a good option for email? I can see way too many potential problems to be optimistic about this yet:

  • Facebook doesn’t seem to be dedicated to user privacy. I worry that I’ll forget to uncheck a box that shouldn’t have been checked and the default option will be to share my information or the information of the people I’m emailing. I send sensitive information via email in some cases, so this is extremely important to me.
  • Bloggers may see the professional benefits of Facebook, but to many, it’s still just a site to talk with friends. How will a Facebook.com email address look to a potential client or employer? I’m not sure I would take that address as seriously as I’d take a Gmail email address.
  • I keep my Facebook profile extremely private. I know that many bloggers use Facebook as a marketing tool, but I use it just to connect with friends I know in real life (though I do have a page for my blog too!). My concern is that if I email clients from a Facebook address, they’ll be able to see some of my profile information. At the very least, they’ll know I use Facebook and will look me up, perhaps even request to be my friend. That puts me in the awkward situation of having to either accept their request and change how I use Facebook or deny them and potentially offend people.

Of course, until Facebook actually rolls out their email platform, we can’t really know if this is a good option or not. I would like to see a rival to Gmail, and I do think that the team at Facebook has some cool ideas in general, so it will be interesting to see how they tackle email. I just hope that they listen to their fans and address concerns in a better way then they’ve done in the past.

Is Email Taking Over Your Life?

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The first thing I do every morning is answer my email. During the day, I check my email multiple times. Before I go to bed? Yep, email. One more time. Just in case.

Answering emails is a part of the territory if you’re a professional blogger, or really any kind of online professional. Sometime, though, I think I overdo it. Do I really need to check my email so often.

I started thinking about how often I check my email because I read an article on Mashable called “The Truth About Email” and was surprised at the one of the stats they posted – 19% of people surveyed check their emails while in bed. That number jumps to 31% among 18- to 34-year-olds.

I was surprised…but I’ve done it. There are nights when I’ll work while sitting in bed before I go to sleep and mornings when I’ll do some work from bed while having a cup of coffee.

My theory is that this number is so high because so many people are starting their own blogs. Even before quitting their day jobs, many are publishing content online, either as a hobby or side job to make a little extra money. It would be interesting to do another poll, this time just with bloggers, both full and part time. I’m willing to bet that email in bed is even more common among bloggers!

Although it is a task that we have to do is we want any kind of success, email can easily take up way too much time. I’m a guilty part when it comes to this, since I easily click on my email to check it 20+ times a day. More if I’m doing a project I find boring, unfortunately.

Confessional: The other day, I was answering a rather long email, and in the middle of doing it, I opened a new window to check my email. That’s right; I checked my email while I was answering an email.

I know some people limit the number of times per day they check their email. I’ve found that it doesn’t work for me to do that to myself. I just get panic-y that I’m going to miss an important email or an email that will make my job easier. If it works for you to say, “I will only check my email at 8 AM and 5 PM every day, more power to you. If that doesn’t work for you like it doesn’t work for me, here are a few tips you can use:

  • Create a folder called “need to answer.” If something isn’t pressing but does demand a reply, put it in folder and set aside time at the end of the day (preferably before you get into bed!) to answer these emails. It’s more efficient than answering emails one at a time as you receive them during the day and also helps you keep need-to-answer emails separate from other emails you want to save, like email newsletters.
  • Forward all emails to a single address. You might have different emails for different blogs, a personal email for friends, etc. I know I do. Forward them all to a single address that you can check during the day. Just make sure you answer emails from the correct account!
  • Set up your cell to make a noise when you get an email, if you have a net-friendly phone. I think there are some desktop clients that do the same thing, essentially – ping when you have a new email. Of course, if you get hundreds every day, that’s not going to work, but if you get more like a dozen every day, this saves you from going through the log in process even though you don’t have any new messages.

My last bit of advice? Use a separate email for signing up for things like contests and newsletters and such – anything that might put you on a spam list. That way, you aren’t checking non-necessary crap during the day – you can just sort through that when you have time to pull out the legitimate emails. Keep a separate email address for your blog or work, because those are the emails that really matter and need the quickest answers.

Ok, I gave my email tips – your turn! How do you keep email from taking over your life?

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