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Tips 11-12: Stay On Top Of E-mail




Stay On top Of E-mail

Today's smartphones make it easy to check e-mail, so there's no excuse for having an overflowing inbox. But if you're just starting out as an entrepreneur, there's a good chance you're using a consumer-oriented "POP3" e-mail service, which can become a headache as your business takes off.

Here's why: Short for "Post Office Protocol 3," POP3 downloads messages to your device's e-mail client, such as Outlook or Entourage, and then deletes them from the server. So if you check messages from multiple devices--say, a laptop at home, a desktop in the office and a smartphone in between--each of their inboxes is different.

It's more efficient to use an e-mail system based on Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), which keeps all of your devices' inboxes in sync by giving each one a copy of your messages but still preserving the original on the server. That means, for example, that you can read a message on your laptop in the morning and review it again in the afternoon from your smartphone.

Ditto for messages you've sent, deleted or moved to a special folder, because every time one of your devices connects with the server, it gets an updated snapshot of your whole account. With POP3, you'd have to update each device individually and manually--a huge waste of time and a great way to get yourself in a position where an important message is on your desktop, but all you have is your smartphone.

Not all e-mail providers charge extra for IMAP. For example, Google's free Gmail uses IMAP and works with most major e-mail apps, such as Outlook, and smartphone operating systems, such as Android, iPhone and Windows Mobile.


Never Run Out Of Power

There's no excuse for your laptop or smartphone running out of juice. For starters, buy a spare battery for each must-carry device. For a smartphone, expect to pay $30 to $50, while laptop batteries go for $50 to $150. The biggest price factor is the battery's capacity, which usually is measured in terms of cells and hours. Shop around because some e-tailers--such as Seido, in the case of smartphones--always have a sale going.

Now for the important part: Keep your batteries charged. A dead spare is counterproductive. Many smartphones come with a charger that can juice up the spare by itself, even as the phone is charging.

One caveat: If you frequently use your laptop at your desk, pull the battery after it's completely charged and run your machine directly from the outlet. The alternative--charging the battery, unplugging from the outlet and then plugging back in when it runs low--wears out the battery faster.

For added insurance, buy a power dongle for your smartphone, such as Energizer's Energi to Go or Duracell's My Pocket Charger. These use one to four AA batteries and plug into the same port that your charger uses. Expect to pay around $20.

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