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Managing your email and passwords is an essential part of your professional life:

Prioritizing important work-related messages and clearing your inbox of spam and junk-mail, all the while ensuring that your email address stays your email address. All too often you’ll hear about people – executives and students alike –  that come to find that their email had been compromised, their password forgotten, or how an important message was overlooked in a stream of garbage special-offers. So, what can you do to ensuring that these issues don’t find their way to you?

Let’s start with organizing your inboxes.

While it’s true that most email services today have many tools and filters that allow you to categorize your mail and sort out what’s important and what isn’t, there’s still one problem – all your mail is in one place. If you’re familiar with the old saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” then it ought to be obvious why this is a bad idea. However secure you believe your email to be, if you lose your account, you lose it all. The solution? Have three accounts: A work account, a personal account, and a throw-away account.

The Work Account:

Probably the most self-expletory of the three, the work account is for one thing and for one thing only – work. This is where your colleges and your superiors will go to get ahold of you. Under no circumstances should you ever use this email address to sign up for services or newsletters, nor should it be given to anyone outside of your professional circles. Depending on where you work, your employer may provide you with a work email. If not, make your own.

The Personal Account:

This is the account that you want to use for financial handlings, newsletters, and other personal messages that aren’t work related. This is the one you’d give your friends, if friends still emailed one another.

The Throw-Away Account:

An account for everything else. Need to sign up for something on whim, but don’t want to commit? Shopping sites are a particularly good place to use a throw-away account, especially if you don’t care about the special offers and sales that you’ll inevitably be reminded of on a daily or hourly basis. If you ever have the sneaking suspicion that you’ll be bombarded with mail you don’t care to read, whip out the junk account. The only time you’re ever going to login to this account is to actually verify that it’s yours.

Coming up with the right password is where a lot of people come up short and make a lot of the same mistakes. I shouldn’t have to say this, but making your password “password” is the worst possible password you can use. It is the very first thing ID thieves will try, right next to “password1” (don’t use that either, or any variant of it). You also want to avoid using the name of the site as your password, using your username as your password, and using the same password for everything. That’s right, you really ought to use a different password for each and every login screen you’re familiar with.

All this may sound like a hassle, but there’s a very easy way to generate and store important passwords.

  1. Open a blank text file.
  2. Randomly type out a stream of characters including special characters (@,$,%, ect.), numbers, and capital letters. Can be any length, though some sites may have character limits.
  3. Title and save the file.

From then on, all you need to do is open that file, copy your very long (but very secure) password and paste it.

And of course, be sure to logout of any accounts that aren’t being used and to change your passwords every so often. Keeping your mail sorted and protected will a unique and cryptic password is one of the very best ways to protect yourself in this digital age. A stitch in time saves nine: Put in just a little time to tighten your personal security today to avoid much more costly problems in the future.

It’s up.

Well, there she is. All dressed up and waiting at the bus-stop.

I couldn’t be more proud.