The last few weeks we’ve been looking at personal behaviour change in relation to working differently. Clearly the desire is there to do things differently so is it the environment or “the system” that is stopping us ultimately?
I thought we should focus on the beast that affects us all nowadays – email. Love its simplicity but hate its ability to multiply before your very eyes? Well you won’t be alone!
Recently, a recommendation in the comments section of a blog referred to a book called: Lifehacker
Coincidentally, I actually had that book on my i-pad having liked its general approach to working smarter, faster and better, for a while. It has simple, straightforward approaches, nothing is unattainable and some things are more suitable to individuals in the day job than others, so it offers choice in what you run with. So it seems timely to look at a problem we will all have had at one time or another:
“How do you control your e-mail?”
Lifehacker outlines 10 ways to get on top of an overfull in-box. We will look at them separately, and I ask you to choose carefully the ones you want to try, but above all, stick with it and be disciplined in your adoption of your chosen approaches. The 10 approaches are as follows:
- Empty your in box – everything should have its own place, and the inbox is not it!
- Decrease your response time
- Craft effective messages
- Highlight Messages sent directly to you
- Use disposable e-mail addresses
- Master message search
- Future-proof your e-mail address
- Consolidate multiple e-mail addresses
- Script and automate repetitive replies
- Filter low priority messages
The beast called e-mail is so important, I think we will focus on an element a week. If you have any top tips to add, please, please do so in the comments section. The chapter on e-mail management suggests you can reduce the amount of time you spend fiddling with e-mail to less than 30-minutes per day. That alone has to be worth the time it takes to read the chapter don’t you think? So here we go with week 1, tackling the mammoth task of emptying that obese in box!!!
I personally love the three folder approach of:
- archive – longer term reference library – no subfolders, thats cheating!
- follow up – things that must be completed – if you use the Important/Urgent matrix, this folder is for things which are important
- hold – temporary holding pen for things you’ll need quick access to within the next day or so – again, if you use the matrix, then these are your Urgent things. Although the chapter says review this folder weekly, I review mine daily, at the beginning of the day.
Top tips I use daily include:
- opening oldest messages first and delete irrelevances immediately
- if the action required will take more than one minute to do, move it to the follow up folder (end of the day review)
- I colour code with a rule, those messages from people who are my key customers or stakeholders, so I can be drawn to them instantly
- make a decision about the fate of every message you read at the time you read it. No excuses!
So, here endeth week 1 of “Managing E-mail”. Whats your top tip?