Autoflag Conversations in Email

Get-It-Done Guy shares a "sneaky" tip for making email more efficient with filters. 

Stever Robbins
1-minute read

Autoflag Conversations in Email

Even though it’s 2013 and we were supposed to have flying cars and artificial intelligence smartphones by now, we’ve yet to figure out how to make email more efficient. And it continues to be a huge time suck for most of us.

I use filters and labels to sort my messages, but sometimes the address line of the message doesn’t correspond with the message contents.  And other times, a client sends an email to my personal email address, rather than my business one. So when I reply, my reply and their later reply all go to my personal email address, forcing me to flag and reflag the conversation manually. Hence the time suck. This way, I’m much more likely to miss one of the back-and-forths and the conversation will drop through the cracks.

My solution is sneaky! I have a filter that scans the email body for a nonsense string like “@#$.” The string is small and unobtrusive, so the recipient won’t notice it. I add that string somewhere in my reply to the client’s message. When they reply, my original messages gets quoted in their reply, so the reply has “@#$” in it, too. The magic nonsense string ties together the entire conversation, and my automatic filter correctly labels and highlights the client messages in my inbox.

This is how you can move a conversation going forward into a folder without worrying about address fields leading you astray.

Happy emailing!

Other ways to handle email overload:
Responding to long email when you’re pressed for time.
Managing email when you’re overloaded.

Email menu from Shutterstock

About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.