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Email Management For Freelancers
Email is the most important tool you have at your service. Without email you cannot work, no matter how good a message system is, nothing beats email.
1. You need to use Outlook, no other email software or web based client is as good as Outlook. The advantage is simple, you can browser email faster than with any other software. Search is the fastest and the contact management is amazing. Gmail is not simply powerful enough for Outlook.
2. You need to create folders for the status of the work. For example, I use the folders "To write", "Waiting payment" and "Done". This allows me to keep track of the work and its status.
Chances are you have to deal with at least 30 emails a day, without Outlook you are toasted, even Thunder Bird design does not allow you to work fast enough.
To keep Outlook working as fast as it can work, archive all the messages marked as done. For example as soon as a project is complete, or the work day is complete, move all these messages to a folder or just let Outlook archive them.
Other emails aren't just good enough
The reason you cannot use Gmail to work as a freelancer is because labels are not smart enough to manage your work. Sometimes you want to move email physically to another folder and with Gmail you cannot. The lack of a reading pane on Gmail makes it impossible to browse emails fast. You spend more than 5 seconds between each message and if you want to browse faster you need to use the "next mail" button that forces you to see all the messages by order, totally noneffective. With Outlook you only open the messages you want and in less than 0.5 seconds between each.
There is also the disadvantage of never having a copy of your email outside Google and you know how fast Google will disable your account for supposedly violations of the TOS, even when you were on holidays with no computer.
Hotmail is too slow to work with not to mention the email is not encrypted, meaning you cannot send very important information using it.
Outlook will improve your work.
As soon as you move to Outlook your income and professionalism will improve!