Life Outside of the Inbox

Thanks to Vickie Davis for pointing me toward Inbox Zero by Merlin Mann of 43 folders. I got a lot from watching the video from his July presentation at the Google Tech Talks, in which he references the book Getting Things Done Book by David Allen.

My take aways:

  • We all need a system for managing our email inbox, so that we don’t live in our inbox.
  • Don’t use your inbox as a to do list, a calendar, or for storing reference materials.
  • Your time and attention are finite, limited and you’ll never get it back.
  • Process to zero everytime you check your email
  • convert to actions: decide in the moment what you need to do with that message and do it
  • Your inbox is for emails you haven’t read.

System for processing: 5 verbs of what to do with email, these same verbs should work for most people

  1. Delete: (or archive) never have a place in your life del, otherwise create a folder called archive and send it there (just 1 folder, not 24); can use search if you get a lot in archive and need to locate something; multiple folders mean you have to think too much about which folder to put it in
  2. Delegate: forward to somebody
  3. Respond: 1-2 line reply; could you limit all your emails to 5 lines? respond quickly to keep things moving, or ask a question just to keep things moving and get that email out of your inbox
  4. Defer: need to respond but need to do some work first
  5. Do: do it now, put it on your calendar, put it on your to do list; Don’t decide what you need to do today by looking at your inbox.
  • Do email less: don’t leave auto check on, don’t check your email every 10 minutes, this constant interruption can hinder your productivity, once an hour is a better option
  • Cheat: use your email software filtering features for things like newsletters
  • Use templates: if you have email content that you find yourself recomposing as you get a FAQ, save this content in a word document and just copy and paste it into your response. I use this those workshop announcement emails I send out.

Do your actions reflect what you think is important? Do you spend you time on what is important to you?

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