How to Use E-mail Autocomplete

Learn how to use your e-mail's auto complete feature for fun and reference.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #88

The solution? Let's take the TEMP idea one step further. Always use a descriptor that describes the kind of list at the start of a list name. For example, every project team list could start with PROJECT. PROJECT Does Life Exist on Mars and PROJECT Carbon Paper Economics study. Since you know you're looking for some project, just type the word PROJECT and the autocomplete list will show you just the project distribution lists, since those are the only ones that start with the word PROJECT. I put the word PROJECT in upper case so it stands out as a tag, and not as part of the list name.

Some other kinds of lists you might consider: MEETING for attendees at regular meetings, like MEETING Monday morning staff list; CLASS for class rosters, such as CLASS Leadership and Ethics or CLASS Understanding Sanskrit Political Commentary; and SOCIAL for all those social gatherings like SOCIAL Candlepin Bowling, SOCIAL Wine tasting, and SOCIAL Beavis and Butthead marathon.

Include a Year For Regular Groups

Sometimes you have a group whose membership changes each year. Let's say you were offered board positions at a food bank and a Girls Club. You thought those were great honors. You thought you'd do no work and get paid mega bucks. Surprise! In non-profits, the board members do mega work and get paid no bucks. “Giving back” is its own reward. You sigh, and create two lists, BOARD Food Bank and BOARD Girls Club so you can easily email the entire board at once.

There's only one problem. Every year, a board member leaves and a new one signs on. You could just delete the old board member from the list and add the new one. But I prefer to create a whole new list for this year's board. That way, I can still email past boards if needed. I make the lists different by adding the year. BOARD 2009 Food Bank. BOARD 2009 Girls Club. That also lets me type BOARD 2009 and I can see at a glance all the boards I was on in 2009. If you're a teacher, this also works for class rosters. CLASS 2009 Ethics, CLASS 2010 Ethics, and so on.

Rather than allowing autocomplete to embarrass you publicly, take control! Label your distribution lists with a keyword in front, helping you keep your important lists separate from your personal entries. Adopt consistent keywords so you can type the keyword, and use autocomplete as a quick reference to find the list you want. For lists that change every year, consider adding the year right after the keyword, turning your autocomplete into a full-fledge reference system.

This is Stever Robbins. Send questions to GetItDone@QuickAndDirtyTips.com. Conquer your email with my audio program You Are Not Your Inbox: Overcoming EMail overload at YouAreNotYourInbox.com.

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!

Email image courtesy of 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.